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CNN Finally Embarassed into Asking Obama About His Murders

Not the right questions. No real answers.  Obama claims you can both have "due process" and be murdered.  But the subject raised.

Talk Nation Radio: Sanctions on Iran -- March Toward War

Kate Gould is the lead lobbyist on Middle East Policy issues at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, focusing on preventing war with Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace. She says the sanctions now imposed on Iran are cruel collective punishment and a step toward war. Kate represents FCNL on the board of Churches for Middle East Peace. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, PBS Frontline’s Tehran Bureau, Foreign Policy in Focus, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Mondoweiss, Common Dreams, Truthout, and other national media outlets.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

Organizing Against War Within a War Party

Remarks prepared for Progressive Central in Charlotte NC, Sept. 4, 2012

Last week in Tampa, Clint Eastwood proposed immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Republican crowd applauded.  This week here in Charlotte, I wouldn't hold my breath for any speaker at the convention to dare to suggest such a thing.  But they would be applauded if they did.  President Obama will pretend to be ending the war, albeit through a process that will take much longer than the entire length of most wars the world has seen, and he'll be applauded for that.  And if the convention resembles the Obama campaign event I attended last week in Charlottesville (a completely different town from this one, by the way, but like this one named for the wife of a king whom these colonies fought a war against because he abused powers in no way approaching the powers now bestowed on our presidents) -- if, I say, the convention resembles that event, then at least one speaker will glorify the murder of Osama bin Laden and win applause for that, while at least one speaker will praise the continuation of the war on Afghanistan and encourage military recruitment for that purpose and win applause for that.  To get people at a convention of their party to reject something, to boo something, or even to stop and consider something would be the rarest of phenomena.

Some nice police officers asked me and my friends to leave the Obama rally in Charlottesville, because we were asking the president to get out of Afghanistan and to end the sanctions on Iran.  We would have asked him several other things if we had thought anyone in the crowd would have the slightest notion what we were talking about.  Why did the United States triple weapons sales to foreign dictatorships last year?  What's the State Department's commission on those sales?  How do they spread freedom, hope, and change?  Why does the president keep a list of people to be murdered?  Why are there children on the list?  Why do opponents of the electric chair and the poison needle not oppose this?  Why did the president triple the occupation of Afghanistan in the first place?  Why has he enlarged the military?  Who authorized him to bomb Libya and supply Syrian terrorists?  Why has he given war making powers to the CIA?  Why is he blowing people up in numerous nations our country was not at war with?  Why does he compound the domestic damage with an unprecedented assault on whistleblowers, the establishment of warrentless spying and trial-less imprisonment, the continuation of tax cuts for billionaires, corporate trade pacts that make NAFTA look like a student exchange program, threats to Social Security, and endless support for fossil fuel extraction and consumption?  We couldn't ask Obama about these things, because his followers tend not to know about them.  That ignorance is not a step up from supporting such policies.  Rather it is a conscious choice to avoid hearing, to flip past those stories, to stay off the sites and lists that might mention them, and to forget quickly any such news that has the indecency to be seen.

Imagine if the record of the past four years were the record of a Republican president.  We'd know a lot more about it.  We'd be a lot more outraged by it.  And we'd be opposing it without a hint of self-censorship.  Imagine if the record and platform of the Democratic nominee were noticeably less warlike.  Our own positions might be better still, but that Democratic platform would be the measure by which we condemned the Republican record of assassinations, privatization, secrecy, unconstitutional wars, drone wars, immunity for torturers, and so on, the record of the past four years -- if it were a Republican record.

Now imagine if the record of the past four years were the record of a Democratic president, but imagine it a far better record, a record of legitimate work for peace.  Imagine that bases had been closed rather than opened, wars ended rather than escalated (and not ended by a predecessor's treaty against which the president fought tooth and nail, but ended by choice), the military shrunken instead of enlarged, etc.  Not only would we applaud that record, but we might go so far as to identify ourselves with that president's political party.

Now imagine if the record of the past four years were that of a Democratic president but a record far worse than what it's actually been, involving more wars and more war preparation, more assassinations, more criminality, perhaps the dropping of a nuclear bomb or two.  Surely there would be some point prior to complete immediate genocide of our species at which we would begin to question the notion of working against war within a war party.  Surely at some point we would decide that we couldn't vote for such a party at all, much less name ourselves for it.  And surely at some earlier point we would decide that we could vote for members of that party (since another party was even worse), but we couldn't identify with them, collaborate with them, censor our views for them, apologize for them, or otherwise treat them fundamentally differently from how we treat the more catastrophic of the two catastrophe generating clubs.  The question is how we know when we've reached that point.

Maybe we can spot it coming from the other direction.  Imagine we've been acting as nonpartisan activists pressuring both halves of a rotten corrupt plutocracy, but one half is so dramatically reformed that we now want to associate ourselves with it and treat it differently.  For example, we don't want to ask for the impeachment of its members just because they do the same things as the other team.  A full 10% of the party perhaps has begun to uphold decent public policies, to the point where we deem it strategic to dismiss 90% of the party as not being the Real members of it.  How do we know when we've reached that point?

My contention is that there is no such point, whichever way you come at it.  If we improve our culture and activate our population, all the politicians will improve -- one party perhaps ahead of another, but all of them.  If, instead, we continue to suffer under the widespread delusion that independent activism can't work, then making excuses for the less evil half of a government will guarantee that both halves are more evil the next time we're asked for our input.  When peace movements, justice movements, the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement succeeded, they did so with independent activism.  The task of organizing, educating, and mobilizing nonviolent action needs everything we have. 

When we pushed for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, people said "Oh, you just don't like Republicans," and we said: No, no, no, we wish them no ill.  We need their successors deterred.  If Bush gets away with these things, the next president of either party and of either sex will assume the same powers and expand upon them.  And it will be too late to wait for the third post-habeas-corpus presidency to begin our resistance.  When Nancy Pelosi gave John Conyers permission to hold an impeachment hearing as long as he didn't try to impeach anyone no matter what he heard at the hearing, we said: you are dooming us to more of these crimes.  And when Congressman Conyers said if the president attacks Iran then he'll finally pursue impeachment, Conyers meant if a Republican president attacks Iran.

And that seems utterly inevitable in its naturalness to us.  Who could question that?  I'm afraid we've turned the responsibility to vote into the pretense that voting changes things.  I'm afraid we've changed the rational casting of a lesser evil vote into a mindset to guide our actions throughout the year.  The threat to Iran is a more dangerous, more immoral threat than what put us in the streets in February 2003.  Murdering people with flying robots is a more dangerous, more immoral abuse than torturing them.  The inequality of wealth is advancing more rapidly.  The collapse of the natural environment is progressing more rapidly.  The proliferation of weapons is advancing more rapidly.  Our activism doesn't seem to be keeping pace.  One reason is that we don't maintain a steady campaign to pressure the government toward sustainability and peace.  That may be asking too much right now.  But come the middle of November, we'll have a choice between obsessing over which schmuck we want voted on or off our national island in 2016, or building a campaign to rid our culture of its addiction to violence and exploitation.  I hope we make the right choice.

Writing Down Rants

In an age when the "conservative" political party cracks jokes about the destruction of the only planet we have to live on, and the other party -- which actually holds that 90% of governing power that now resides in the White House -- gets a free pass on its record of destroying that planet because the other party cracks jokes about it, cool dispassionate political science textbookese is out of place.  I'll care what Rational Man would do under each of the various systems of oppression when you find me somebody rational.  And then I'll just ask him or her what they are doing, so you won't have to tell me.

Global Peace Radio

Here's audio of David Swanson and Jason Liosatos: mp3.

Obamobedience

Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine spoke prior to Obama's speech on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va.  He had praise for anyone signing up to go to war in Afghanistan.  "We can still put our positive thumbprint on that nation," he said, to wild cheers.  Imagine the competition among the world's nations to get our thumbprint next!  Imagine what it costs to get our assprint.

"So, who are you voting for?" an Obama follower asked me prior to the event.  I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).

The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama's willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called "Bush" tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama's sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.

"So, who are you going to vote for?"

"Well," I said, "you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day.  If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that's great.  Knock yourself out.  But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year.  If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil.  One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda -- that is, to partially trash Social Security.  So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?"

"Yeah, I see, but I'm trying to understand who you think we should vote for."

"Let me try again.  Take Obama's kill list for . . . "

"His what?"

"President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill.  It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican.  Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children.  Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it?  I don't mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen.  What are you supposed to do in such a case?"

"Well what's the alternative?"

"The alternative to murdering people?  Well, I don't know how to put this.  The alternative is essentially not murdering people."

"No, what's the alternative to Obama? Isn't the other guy worse?"

"Let me try again.  You'll grant me that women didn't vote themselves the right to vote.  Will you go along with that?  They didn't get the right to vote by voting for it?"

"Yes."

"And the civil rights movement didn't end the sit ins and marches and endorse Democrats and pack events like this one to cheer loudly?  That wouldn't have worked as well and wouldn't have been required in order for those activists to be serious activists, right?  We don't accuse Martin Luther King of not being a serious activist because he didn't endorse candidates, right?  And if you'd asked him what the alternative was to your candidate, would you be shocked if he had replied that the alternative was educating, organizing, mobilizing, and engaging in nonviolent resistance to evil?"

"So, you're not going to vote for anybody?"

"I'm not sure I'm being very clear here.  70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended.  Neither candidate is willing to end it.  Obama pretends he's ending it.  Romney doesn't mention it.  Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed?  Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we're satisfied -- regardless of who we're going to vote for?"

"Well, you can have your opinion about Afghanistan, but that's no reason to character assassinate the President."

"Seventy percent of the country is character assassinating the president by wanting to get out of Afghanistan?  Or only if you mention it out loud?  How do you character assassinate someone?  Did you catch the part where I pointed out that Obama actually assassinates people?"

Three of us went into the event.  I had tickets, which were free and which the campaign could barely give away, while back in 2007 Obama had sold out the same venue.  We didn't go in so as to spend hours in the hot sun just to hear an Obama speech like the one he'd given the day before in another town which we could have watched on Youtube.  Thousands of people did that.  We went in to disturb the war.

We wanted to shout.  But what could we shout?  We were only three.  We were not near the front.  (I recommend taking 10 to the front of one of these events if you can. You'll own the place.)  We would have to be loud and clear.  We couldn't mention the kill list which would be like mentioning UFOs to these people.  We couldn't mention Social Security because they pretend Obama's not threatening it.  We couldn't mention peace because people would think it was a pro-Obama chant.  We decided to say this: Get out of Afghanistan! End the sanctions on Iran!

Here's how the Washington Post's blog reported on that:

"Protesters drown out Obama

"Posted by Amy Gardner on August 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm
"CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — An outdoor political rally erupted into a moment of chaos as protesters drowned out President Obama’s speech at a downtown amphitheater here — and then the rest of the crowd drowned out the protesters. It was unclear what the protesters were saying, but several members of the crowd said a few minutes later that they heard 'Get out of Afghanistan!' The shouts prompted a flurry of Secret Service activity, and they also prompted an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 to shut down the protesters with two cacophonous chants: 'Four more years!' and 'O-ba-ma!' Obama couldn't continue for a long moment, but when the noise finally died down, he said: 'I couldn’t hear what those young people had to say, but that's good that they got involved.' To the rest of the crowd, he said: 'Don't just chant! Vote!'"

Obama was pretending the crowd was all young people.  He'd tried to speak at the University of Virginia which had turned him down, but he gave his speech as if he were there.  The crowd didn't shout us down till we'd run out of breath.  They were not nearly as fast as Republicans are with their "U-S-A! U-S-A!"  In fact, they seemed tremendously proud of themselves when they managed to discover that they could yell "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!"  Voting, in the pretense of those in power, constitutes more activism than chanting or any other activity.  Don't just hold teach-ins, vote! Don't just occupy the square, vote! Don't just risk your life to expose injustice, vote! If Bradley Manning had just voted, that would have been the last full measure of devotion.

As to the flurry of Secret Service activity, an Obama campaign guy started standing next to us, and a mean possibly drunk guy started shoving and threatening us.  After various additional disruptions of the war (not the peace) by us, the Obama guy called the local police over who asked us to leave, and asked for our names, etc., to tell them to the Secret Service.  The police had earlier refused numerous requests by the Obama staff and volunteers to evict our poster demonstration.  The police had mentioned freedom of speech.  The local media, as well as the police, were surprisingly decent.  The Obama campaigners, on the other hand, would have exiled us all to Gitmo if they'd been able, and if they weren't suffering under the misconception that it's been closed.

Talk Nation Radio: How Young People Shut Down a Strip Mine in West Virginia and Why

Eva Westheimer was recently arrested for shutting down a strip mine in West Virginia, along with Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival ( http://rampscampaign.org ). Westheimer is a junior at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.  She describes the recent action she took, the ongoing campaign, and what motivates her.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

About Face, Bloody Hell

"About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War," is a book that should be stacked up on a table in every high school cafeteria, next to the vultures.  Sorry, I mean the war pushers. Sorry, I mean the good recruiters for the services of the profiteers of death. Sorry, you know the people I mean.  That is, unless useful books can make it into classrooms, which would be even better.

Most G.I. resistance in Vietnam, this book points out, came from those who had willingly signed up, not from draftees.  It is often those who believe the hype, who are trying to benefit the world by going to war, who find the will try to benefit the world when their blinders have been removed and they've seen what war is and what war is used for. 

"About Face" collects stories of recent resistance within the "volunteer" U.S. military.  These are young people with few job options who choose military "service" but discover it isn't a service.  They all have stories, many of them highlighting particular moments of conversion.  The reality is usually more complex and gradual, but the stories make the point.

Benji Lewis was a Marine in Iraq.  After two "tours" he gave some thought to things that had happened on his first tour, including this:

"They were shooting at this lady who was walking up to our posts waving her arms and asking for help in Arabic.  So I came up close and talked to her, and her face looked like death itself.  She had salt crusted all over her face.  It was obvious that she had been crying for quite a bit.  I kind of got the story that she had a family.  We were like, 'Go back home, go to your family.'  And then it came out that she was asking for help.  Three days ago, her entire family, her children, had been pretty much buried in the rubble of their house, and she was asking for help.  I asked my staff sergeant, 'Can we help her?'  He said to tell her to walk to the Red Cross aid station, which was a few miles away.  We couldn't leave our posts to help her, so we gave her a couple of bottles of water and wished her luck, you know.  It downed on me later on that me being the adjusting gunner for the mortar section, there was a good probability that I was the one that put those rounds on her house." 

Lewis refused orders for his Individual Ready Reserve recall and was discharged with no penalties.  While some resisters are punished, that does not seem to be the norm.  Often the resistance takes the form of going AWOL, and in some cases later turning oneself in.  Andre Shepherd sought refugee status in Germany:

"I made a decision during [a] two-week period that I would have to walk away from the service rather than either get myself killed or get somebody else killed in a war that was based on a pack of lies."

Some resisters don't believe they should request conscientious objector status, because that requires opposing all wars.  Having come to see through the lies and horror of one war, they still fantasize that some other war might be a good idea.  Those who do apply for conscientious objector status don't always receive it, but many do.  Hart Viges joined up in 2001, gung ho for the war on terra.  He was honorably discharged as a conscientious objector three years later.  "I am opposed to all wars," he says.  "When anybody picks up a tool to violently fight their brother or sister, I am opposed to it and do not support it.  I finally found my fight, my good fight.  It's the path that I am most comfortable with, more comfortable with myself than I have ever been in the rest of my life."  Telling the truth about war turns out to be great therapy for veterans and for our whole society.

But the stories should perhaps be taken in small doses.  Reading through these books without pause can make you understand why it is sometimes the counselors who hear all the soldiers' stories who end up losing their own minds.  "About Face" informs potential recruits and those already recruited that they have options, as well as informing aging peace activists where the young ones are: they're among the veterans.  Many other books and videos can add to the reality that needs to be communicated to a culture increasingly viewing war as a harmless sport.  Probably the most powerful collection of veterans' stories I've read is "Bloody Hell" by Dan Hallock.  This is essentially an uncensored view of what can become of you if you don't resist.

"Bloody Hell" shows us homeless men, men mad with nightmares, in prison, on death row, drunk, weeping, drugged, screaming, suicidal, and unable to prevent themselves from harming those they love.  A Vietnam veteran identified as Lee married and had a little girl with a Vietnamese woman while stationed in Vietnam during the war.  That wife and daughter, plus drug use, were what carried him through the hell he was a part of, the killing and the dying all around him.  But the Army denied the legitimacy of his marriage and made clear he would have to leave his wife and daughter behind or desert:

"Chi and I met one last time before I was supposed to leave.  We both cried our eyes out.  It was so bad, so much pain.  We trembled in each other's arms.  I left her and went back to my unit.  Then she sent me a note saying to meet her at a cliff above the South China Sea, a very beautiful place where we had gone a lot.  I went.  I was leaving tomorrow, so I had to see her today.  I took an officer's jeep and drove to the cliff.  There they were, waiting, crying.  We didn't talk, we just held each other, with Le in between us.  We cried so much.  I reached into my pocket and took out my pistol, put it to Chi's head and pulled the trigger.  There was a splatter -- then her blood gushed out -- all over me.  I held her tightly -- with Le screaming still between us.  I held her as long as I could -- then let her go -- over the cliff and into the sea they both fell.  I pounded the earth as hard as I could -- I screamed till I had no voice.  I had nothing left inside me when I drove back.  I should have died in Vietnam instead of living the thousands of deaths that I have.  Back at the hooch no one said a word to me.  I had walked in covered with blood and looked pretty bad -- no one said a word."

Lee recounts his life back in the United States as a veteran, with a new wife, and a new child.  You can imagine.  But you should read it.  Everyone should.  Especially everyone who's 17 and not the child of a billionaire.

Shooting Your Own Side

Veterans' stories often depict war differently from what the television told us.  Drones won't talk, of course, but human warriors tell us how early the 2003 invasion of Iraq began, how the Gulf of Tonkin incident didn't happen, and how countless families have been murdered rather than liberated.  "Bloody Hell" includes an account from a veteran named Doug of the 1989 U.S. attack on Panama.  I had known that the war plans had been in place months before an incident that was used to justify this "intervention" against long-time U.S.-backed dictator Manuel Noriega.  Some drunk Panamanian soldiers had beaten up a U.S. navy officer and threatened his wife.  But listen to this account from Doug:

"At Fort Bragg I was ordered to go on a mission against a group of people I had never dreamed of -- our own soldiers.  I was assembled along with Michael and four other men whom I never had met before.  We were among the few soldiers in the U.S. Army at the time with combat experience, with confirmed sniper kills; we were also the best of the best.  The thinking at the Pentagon was that to get the soldiers stationed in Panama to fight, they had to have very good reasons.  We're talking here about soldiers who have never experienced combat before.  And the best way to get them riled up was to attack them.  When Michael asked what the other four men in our mission were doing, we were told it was none of our business.  You see, American soldiers, especially infantry soldiers, stick together.  If one of them gets into a predicament in a bar -- I mean a fight -- the others don't walk away, they join in.  You don't fight one of them, you fight all of them.  Their training has taught them to be a team; they depend on each other, and it doesn't matter if it's a barroom brawl or not.  They depend on each other to get home.  So what better way to get them all worked up than to take pot shots at them?  We were told that we would be saving lives by doing this.  For weeks leading up to the invasion of Panama, Michael and I took pot shots at soldiers during the night." 

There's wrong.

And then there's Army wrong.

Boiling Frogs: Activist and Author David Swanson on the Thinning Ranks of Peace Activists and the Expanding War Machinery

Source

by Peter B. Collins on August 27, 2012

Preview Clip

 

David Swanson, author and tireless, inspiring activist, joins us for this Boiling Frogs interview, co-hosted with Sibel Edmonds.Author and peace activist David Swanson joins us to discuss our nation’s perpetual war status, the latest in the peace activists’ movement, and the disappearance of Anti-Republicans from the peace movement since Barack Obama’s presidency. He talks about the need to overcome Americans’ understanding of the war machine as a jobs engine and militarism as a normal way of life, and for broader understanding of the Military Industrial Complex as the top opponent of all that is good and just, broader-based opposition to not only domestic surveillance drones but also our killer drones abroad, and more!

David Swanson is an activist, blogger and author, and a founder of WarIsACrime.Org. He was press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, is co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, the Backbone Campaign, and Voters for Peace. Mr. Swanson has authored several books including Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, War Is A Lie , When the World Outlawed War, and The Military Industrial Complex at 50. To learn more about David Swanson visit http://davidswanson.org

WBAI on When the Republican Convention Favored Peace

Believe it or not, once upon a time in America, there was a close-enough-to "pacificist" Republican President:  Calvin Coolidge.    RootsAction.org's David Swanson reviews the forgotten 1924 campaign of "Outlawry" against war, versus contemporary Republican policy; RNC Opening with a "Voter Suppression" counterpoint; and Independent Institute's Ivan Eland on Ron Paul's prospects of "libertarianating" the RNC; and Ron Paul himself, rallying in Tampa, and not endorsing Mitt Romney.



 Program details below...


-Robert Knight
Senior National Correspondent

"Five  O'Clock  Shadow"
WBAI . 99.5FM . wbai.org 

We Are the 99.5!
 
 "Five O'Clock Shadow" with Robert Knight 
 Daily Program
 Calvin Coolige; David Swanson; RNC; Ivan Eland; Ron Paul; Robert Knight
 

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION COVERAGE: DAY ONE


WHAT A DIFFERENCE A CENTURY MAKES: REPUBLICAN MORPHING FROM PEACE TO WAR

CALVIN COOLIDGE - 1924 Campaign Statement of contemporaneous Republican Party principles;

DAVID SWANSON [ davidswanson.org , rootsaction.org ], author of "War Is a Lie," discusses his latest essay, "A Forgotten RNC," and the counterintuitive peace-asserting Republican (and Socialist and Progressive) party philosophy of 1924's "outlawry" movement leading to the Kellog-Briand Treaty that nominally refutes war as an instrument of statecraft;

RNC (2012) - Opening Statement and immediate "adjournment";

Daniel R. Queen [ queenspalaceinc.com ] - "Voter Suppression"; 

IVAN ELAND [ independent.org ], senior fellow at the Independent Institute, and author of "Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity and Liberty," discusses the Ron Paul populist/libertarian impulse within the Republican party, and the prospects of his international anti-war philosophy being subverted by domestic conservative interests; and

RON PAUL addresses supporters at a "Sun Dome" rally in Tampa.



Anchor: Robert Knight
Producer: Thiago Barrozo
Engineer: Michael G. Haskins
Origin: WBAI/Pacifica

Support the "Shadow" - give2wbai.org

Audio: David Swanson on Protesting Obama's War Making

Charlottesville Right Now: 8-27-12 David Swanson
David Swanson, renowned activist and author joins the show to discuss the President's upcoming visit in Charlottesville.

Go here.

Are Human Rights Becoming a Tool of US "Smart Power"?

By Coleen Rowley

Some nonpartisan commentators finally recognize that current US foreign policy continues to escalate militarily as though on steroids. It has become evident that use of deadly force by a US-dominated NATO is not only outside the parameters of international and constitutional law, but also in some cases outside basic legal principles that have stood the test of time not only for decades, but for centuries.  One explanation, however, for why American civil society, in general, has not pushed back is the "better rhetoric" now being used to sell war. 

August 27th and the Strangest Dream

In a few places around the country groups are working to make August 27th a local or national holiday as a result of reading "When the World Outlawed War."  

“Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before,” wrote Ed McCurdy in 1950 in what became a popular folk song. “I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men. And the paper they were signing said they’d never fight again.” (Here are a few videos: Johnny Cash - Pete Seeger - Simon and Garfunkel - John Denver - Serena Ryder.) 

That scene had happened in reality on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France. The treaty that was signed that day, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was subsequently ratified by the United States Senate in a vote of 85 to 1 and remains on the books (and on the U.S. State Department’s website) to this day as part of what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution calls “the supreme Law of the Land.”  Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State who made this treaty happen, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and saw his public reputation soar — so much so that the United States named a ship after him, one of the “Liberty ships” that carried war supplies to Europe during World War II. Kellogg was dead at the time. So, many believed, were prospects for world peace. But following World War II, for the first time ever people were prosecuted for the brand new crime of making war -- these charges explicitly justified by the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  And the wealthy nations have not gone to war with each other since.  War continues against and among poor nations only, much to our shame.  But the possibility of eliminating war entirely if we choose has been well established.

IMAGE: the author at Frank Kellogg's house in St. Paul, Minn. Photo by Coleen Rowley.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact and its renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy is something we might want to revive. This treaty gathered the adherence of the world’s nations swiftly and publicly, driven by fervent public demand. We might think about how public opinion of that sort might be created anew, what insights it possessed that have yet to be realized, and what systems of communication, education, and elections would allow the public again to influence government policy, as the ongoing campaign to eliminate war — understood by its originators to be an undertaking of generations — continues to develop.

We might begin by remembering what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is and where it came from. Perhaps, in between celebrating Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and the Iraq-Afghanistan Wars Day legislated by Congress in 2011, not to mention the militaristic festival that bombards us every September 11th, we could squeeze in a day marking a step toward peace. I propose we do so every August 27th. Perhaps a national focus for Kellogg-Briand Day might be on an event in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., (if it safely reopens following the recent earthquake) where the inscription below the Kellogg Window gives Kellogg, who is buried there, credit for having “sought equity and peace among the nations of the world.”

We would be celebrating a step toward peace, not its achievement. We celebrate steps taken toward establishing civil rights, despite that remaining a work in progress. By marking partial achievements we help build the momentum that will achieve more. We also, of course, respect and celebrate the ancient establishment of laws banning murder and theft, although murder and theft are still with us. The earliest laws making war into a crime, something it had not been before, are just as significant and will long be remembered if the movement for the Outlawry of war succeeds. If it does not, and if the nuclear proliferation, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation that come with our wars continue, then before long there may be nobody remembering anything at all.

Another way to revive a treaty that in fact remains law would, of course, be to begin complying with it. When lawyers, politicians, and judges want to bestow human rights on corporations, they do so largely on the basis of a court reporter’s note added to, but not actually part of, a Supreme Court ruling from over a century back. When the Department of Justice wants to “legalize” torture or, for that matter, war, it reaches back to a twisted reading of one of the Federalist Papers or a court decision from some long forgotten era. If anyone in power today favored peace, there would be every justification for recalling and making use of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It is actually law. And it is far more recent law than the U.S. Constitution itself, which our elected officials still claim, mostly unconvincingly, to support. The Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads in full,

The High Contracting Parties solemly [sic] declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, whose initiative had led to the Pact and whose previous work for peace had already earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, remarked at the signing ceremony,

For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of  peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations. Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end. . . . [S]elfish and willful war which has been regarded from of old as springing from divine right, and has remained in international ethics as an attribute of sovereignty, has been at last deprived by law of what constituted its most serious danger, its legitimacy. For the future, branded with illegality, it is by mutual accord truly and regularly outlawed so that a culprit must incur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories.

Protest at Obama Event in Charlottesville This Wednesday

Please sign up on FaceBook:
http://facebook.com/events/278485415586563

Please bring signs, banners, posters!

1 p.m. at the Free Speech Wall.

Please print lots of these flyers to hand out:
http://warisacrime.org/downloads/obamaflyercville.pdf

Here's what the flyers say:

Go, Obama, Go! 

While you wait . . .

It's important that we remind ourselves why we're here, and what we're cheering for!

Accomplishment Highlights
President Obama keeps a list of "nominees" for murder and holds meetings on Tuesdays to pick the winners.  We can ask him who got the nod yesterday.  The list includes adults and children, men and women, boys and girls, Americans and non-Americans.   See: New York Times, May 29, 2012.

President Obama has enlarged the U.S. military three years in a row, deployed it to more nations, engaged it in more secret wars, and invented a new form of warfare using drones.  The drone wars are killing large numbers of people and creating vastly greater numbers of refugees.  Their illegality is not a concern, following Obama's war in Libya conducted despite the opposition of Congress, and the current U.S. role in a civil war in Syria unilaterally announced by the White House.  These are on top of a war in Afghanistan that Obama tripled in size and intends to continue for two-and-a-half more years before continuing at an unspecified smaller scale for 10 more years after that, despite 70 percent public opposition now.

In fact, legality has been removed from all discussion, as President Obama has publicly instructed the Attorney General of the United States not to prosecute any members of the Central Intelligence Agency for torture.  President Obama, together with Congress, has "legalized" imprisonment without trial for Americans or non-Americans (something Obama's Justice Department is currently struggling to uphold in court), as well as rendition, and torture (now a policy choice rather than a crime). 

The Obama administration has engaged in an unprecedented assault on whistleblowers, charging more than all previous administrations combined under the Espionage Act, creating a climate of secrecy and fear, torturing Bradley Manning, and maneuvering in an extensive effort to gain custody of Julian Assange and try or at least punish him for journalism.

This unprecedented militarism was the inevitable result of our failure to hold Bush and Cheney responsible for their crimes.  It carries with it the inevitable trade-off on the domestic side.  Over half of federal discretionary spending (and rising) now goes to war preparation.  Obama's major complaint with the U.S. media is that, "He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security" (New York Times, Aug. 7, 2012). The concentration of wealth in the hands of the few has advanced faster under Obama than under Bush.  Corporate trade agreements have been created at a faster pace.  The destruction of the earth's atmosphere has continued at a faster pace. 

The Horrible Romney Alternative
OF COURSE you should not vote for Romney.  But civil rights were not gained by avoiding the responsibilities of citizenship in order to pretend that every day is election day.  Today is not election day.  Today is an opportunity to communicate a message to the holder of an office that has been given unprecedented power (again, by allowing Bush to walk free).  Women did not vote themselves the right to vote.  The labor movement was not built by the current strategy of funding a corporate political party with working people's hard-earned pay.  In that moment of voting, vote as you see fit.  But censoring your criticism of your government, cheering as a spectator for one half of a corrupt government, treating government of the people as a spectator sport is working against what has always done the good you are intending to do here.  We don't need well-meaning props in electoral commercials so much as we need activists, organizers, mobilizers, educators.  If we reject any cuts to our Social Security and Medicare, if we insist on an end to all the killing, we will move the culture of the country and with it all the politicians.  That's what's worked for centuries.  Avoiding ugly facts has never gotten us anywhere.

A Forgotten RNC

The acceptance speech of the Republican candidate for U.S. president in 1924 would have made a dramatic improvement on President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech of 2009.  The 1924 speech was given by the incumbent president who would go on to win reelection and to act on his rhetorical commitments.  His name was Calvin Coolidge.

The speech has been virtually erased from memory, as has the movement that inspired the section I want to recall.  The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation doesn't list the speech on its website and cannot find it when asked.  The American Presidency Project hasn't got it.  The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum is no help.  The Library of Congress Coolidge Papers don't have it.  The Private Coolidge papers don't have it.  The University of North Carolina - Charlotte claims to have it but doesn't.  However, the Lewiston Evening Journal printed the speech on August 14, 1924, and you can read it on Google

The speech is, of course, chock full of distortions, exaggerations, U.S. exceptionalism, racism, bigotry, nationalism, religion, elitism, libertarianism, sexism, and other comforting touches that will make us feel at home and remind us of our own Republican National Conventions.  It would take volumes to survey the many ways in which we've progressed, retrogressed, and failed to budge from that speech to today.  But I want to point to one section on which we've lost tremendous ground.  There was nothing like it in John McCain's speech in 2008 or in Obama's of that year.  There will be nothing like it this season.

Should More of the Blood Be on the Train Tracks?

At this year's Veterans For Peace convention in Miami, VFP President Leah Bolger challenged members to take risks: "Many of you have risked a lot for war.  What will you risk for peace?"

One VFP member, S. Brian Willson, gave his legs and part of his skull for peace.  It was 1987, and the U.S. military was shipping weapons to port, in order to ship them to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where they would be used to slaughter the people of those nations, where, in Willson's words "In one country, we supported a puppet government against a people's revolution; in the other, we supported a puppet revolution against a people's government." 

Willson had decided that his own life was not worth more than the lives of non-Americans, that they were losing their lives and limbs as a direct result of our inaction, and that he had a moral responsibility to act.  Willson and others sat down on a train track in front of a train full of weapons.  The train usually traveled at 5 miles per hour.  The train would stop.  The protesters would be removed from the tracks.  That was the standard practice, and that was the law.  But that's not what happened the day Willson lost his legs.

It seems that the military had decided that nonviolent protesters did not exist, that everywhere in the world the only tool available was violence.  Therefore, Wilson must be a violent terrorist.  Therefore, he and his companions must be planning to jump aboard the train.  Therefore, the train must speed up and stop for nothing and nobody.  That was the order given.  The other protesters moved out of the way in time.  Willson, sitting cross-legged, could not.  The train ran him over.  And then the men driving the train sued Willson for causing them to suffer post traumatic stress. 

But something else happened too.  Hundreds of people ripped up the track and built a monument out of the railroad ties.  People formed blockades of trains on that track for years to come.  Every train and nearly every truck was blocked until January 1990.  Celebrities showed up and held rallies.  Ronald Reagan's daughter wrote a kind letter to Wilson, as did professional sports teams and other big whigs congratulating him on his courageous stand.  And similar actions sprang up around the country.  Visiting Nicaragua, Willson was treated as a national hero. 

But Willson is from our nation, and he's a global hero.  Probably his most valuable act, however, has been performed behind a keyboard.  "Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson," with an introduction by Daniel Ellsberg, is an epic.  This is the long and careful transformation from an eager soldier accepting of rightwing dogma to a principled and courageous advocate for peace and ecological justice.  Willson now strives to live sustainably, and brings the reader to question not only the paying of war taxes but the consumption of corporate products generated by the cruel threat of force in foreign lands. 

"One day," Willson writes, "the corporations that allow and often enable terrorism in countries like Colombia will be pushed out of those countries.  We will no longer be able to buy one-dollar Cokes or ninety-nine-cent-a-pound bananas.  Maybe when that day comes, we will finally realize that we do not even desire cheap goods at the cost of others' lives.  Maybe we will finally realize that we all share a common humanity."

Willson's book is a tour, with him, of much of the world, from the killing he participated in in Viet Nam, to that he has tried to prevent in Latin America, Palestine, and elsewhere.  It’s a philosophical journey, through the course of which Willson learns much from the people he is trying to help.  The Zapatistas, the Cubans, and others are not just victims of imperialism, but pioneers in sustainable (and enjoyable!) living.  If that idea strikes you as crazy but you're willing to consider a careful argument from someone who began far to your right and doesn't change easily … or if the idea strikes you as plausible and you like to see it laid out in a very human story … either way, you can't do better than to read "Blood on the Tracks," and perhaps we as a people -- and I mean the human people, not the people of some nation -- would be better off if a little more of the blood we are still spilling in such great quantities were spilled on railroad tracks for peace. 

 

Entrepreneur in Empire State Saves World Economy

No joke.  A little innovative thinking and economic calculation, and someone has come up with a model in Niagara Falls that could restore the U.S. economy and every economy influenced by it, not to mention the natural environment and what's left of our miserable souls.

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has long been an economic drain (military spending produces fewer jobs than energy or education or infrastructure spending or even tax cuts), an environmental disaster (with the ground poisoned, what can replace this airport?), and a symbol of corruption (with the military trying to get rid of it, Congress members have insisted on keeping the base around as a make-work jobs program protected from charges of Socialism purely by its connection to war).

Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center has come up with an idea that could generate jobs, increase the area's clean energy production by 60% (and that's saying something in a place already benefitting from a fairly largish waterfall), avoid killing anybody anywhere in the world, and last as long as the sun shines, rather than as long as the Pentagon pigs out.  (Playing along with the general pretense that the Pentagon is already facing big cuts may be a strategic move in getting these sorts of projects going, but the Pentagon is almost guaranteed to really face enormous cuts before the sun does.) 

Bowman's idea is to cover the airport with solar panels.  Covering 8 million square meters would produce 546 ongoing jobs maintaining the panels, plus power for 110,000 homes.  Bowman has laid out various options and their costs and savings.  The cost to the public would be no more than we now spend.  Instead of one more military airport, we'd have all that clean energy and a model for the country showing how to develop a local economy.  (What locality in this country doesn't have a military boondoggle that could be put to better use?)  And if we kill fewer Pakistanis and Yemenis and Afghans and Iranians and Somalis in the process, generating a bit less hatred for our country, who's going to complain?  The newly employed?  I doubt it.  Those benefitting from the clean electricity?  We're talking about much of Western New York being powered by sunshine via panels that make a lot less noise and air pollution than military jets.  We could try this in Eastern New York and Northern Pennsylvania and Southern Massachusetts, and … 110,000 houses here, 110,000 houses there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.

Does this solution make sense?  Does it in fact make so much sense as to threaten the Pentagon's bureaucrats?  "Bureaucrat" is, of course, a French term meaning "We'll do things the way we've always done things even if it kills you."  Never fear, bureaucrats!  The Secretary of War is on the case.  Leon Panetta, who 20 years ago favored exactly the kind of conversion proposed by Bowman, swooped in to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on August 9th waving around giant bags of cash.   "We're committed to maintaining this base for the future," Panetta said. "It's important geographically, it's important to our mission going forward."  Aha! Bet you didn't see that coming!  We need an Air Reserve base in Niagara Falls to hold off the Canadian menace and suppress the growing violence between New York and Ohio.  It's the geographic importance!  Or Congresswoman Kathleen Hochul is a Democrat.  One or the other.  The solar lobby just doesn't buy campaigns the way war and oil profiteers do.  Bowman is proposing 546 jobs at $50,000 each, but for a mere $52,950 total dumped into Hochul's campaigns (according to OpenSecrets.org), the "defense" industry seems to have out-bid him.

Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., ($194,403) has come to the principled conclusion that the base should remain a military base, and the Pentagon should figure out some way to waste money on it.  Schumer assures us that Panetta is a "thoughtful, perceptive and caring" man who understands the base's importance to the Western New York economy, according to the Buffalo News.  But, Panetta warns, if Congress doesn't undo by next January the "cuts" to the military that it passed last year, heads will roll, jobs will be axed, and Western New York will be forced to employ more people at a lower cost while generating clean energy for its residents.  Are you scared yet?  Panetta's dire warning of $487 billion in cuts is, as he sometimes mentions, "over 10 years."  This means that the cuts sound bigger if you multiply them by 10.  That's all it means.  The annual cuts are $48 billion.  But not really, because the cuts are smaller while Panetta and his boss are actually around, with most of the cuts pushed off into the latter part of the 10-year period.  On top of which, the cuts are to dream budgets, not to actual budgets.  Panetta's teasing of the people of Niagara Falls (You'll lose your jobs! You'll keep your jobs!  You'll lose your jobs!) is the equivalent of Lockheed Martin's sending out phony pink slips to scare its workers, and both are the equivalent of a hot steaming pile of what comes out the far side of a well-fed bull.

Following Panetta's shakedown of Western New York for the war profiteers in Northern Virginia, Charley Bowman responded:

"The August 9 performance at the Niagara Falls Air Base by our elected representatives -- and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta -- can be summed up: jobs at the air base are only available through war or military research.  They should know better.  Following a 'lengthy' speech about the need for defense cuts, Panetta promised the frantic search will continue to discover a new military mission for the air base.  His intended message was: no third world country is off limits, as we continue  our struggle in the war on terror. With serious expressions on their faces, Schumer, Hochul and [Congressman Brian ($52,500)] Higgins nodded in agreement.  Secretary Panetta did bring $6 million with him saying a flight simulator will be built at the air base. None of our elected leaders brought up the fact that flight simulation does not need a functioning airport. Such simulation could be done just as well in an urban setting, such as Buffalo's East Side or downtown Niagara Falls. (During the 2.5 hour long vigil outside the Niagara Falls Air Base that day, I counted 3 planes landing -- barely surpassing the flight activity at grass landing strips in rural Western N.Y.)"

Stop Imperialism: Eric Draitser and David Swanson


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INTERVIEW by Eric Draitser at http://stopimperialism.com


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Eric has the pleasure of interviewing renowned author and activist David Swanson. Eric and David discuss the relationship between war and morality and the way in which media and the establishment normalize the concept of war. In addition, they examine the willingness of the mainstream Left to line up behind war, the subservience of the foundation-funded organizations and media to the imperialist ruling class, and the insidious doctrine of "humanitarian intervention" (R2P). Eric and David also try to envision a way to unite anti-war voices from all over the political spectrum in the struggle against the imperialist war machine.

Welcoming a Warmonger to Town on Wednesday

Wow, it's been a while, but protests of war makers in Charlottesville will be back big time next Wednesday. It seems like ages since we protested John Yoo, or even since our threatened protest of Dick Cheney scared him out of coming to town. But opportunity is knocking and a massive nonviolent protest is sure to answer.

How could it not? On Wednesday, Charlottesville will host a man who has escalated war in Afghanistan and continued it in the face of overwhelming public opposition. He's invented a new kind of war using drones and launched such wars in numerous nations, building intense hostility toward the United States. He keeps a list of "nominees" for murder. On the list are adults and children, Americans and non-Americans. He holds meetings with his staff on Tuesdays to decide whom to kill next, and then kills them. He'll have one of these Terror Tuesday meetings the day before his visit to our town.

Talk Nation Radio: The War on Whistleblowers With Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack

Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Drake discuss their experiences as government whistleblowers, the retribution they've endured, and the currently worsening pattern of secrecy, intimidation, and persecution of whistleblowers in Washington, D.C.

Jesselyn Radack is a former ethics adviser to the U.S. Department of Justice who came to prominence as a whistleblower after she disclosed that the FBI committed an ethics violation in its interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban") without an attorney present, and that the Department of Justice attempted to suppress that information. Her experience is chronicled in her memoir, TRAITOR: The Whistleblower and the "American Taliban". Radack was this past year's co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award.

Jesselyn Radack is the Government Accountability Project's National Security & Human Rights Director. In her role, she works primarily with national security and intelligence community whistleblowers, including those from the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, NSA and CIA – with a special focus on torture, secret surveillance, secrecy, and political discrimination. See http://whistleblower.org

She recently represented former NSA official Thomas Drake on whistleblower matters stemming from the government's unsuccessful prosecution of him under the Espionage Act.

Thomas Drake is a former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, and whistleblower. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams award. The government's retribution against Drake, for exposing waste, abuse, and incompetence, included charging him under the Espionage Act.  The charges fell apart.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

You Say You Want a Revolution of Values?

I spoke this past weekend at the Kateri Peace Conference in upstate New York ( http://kateripeaceconference.org ) along with Kathy Kelly, John Horgan, Ellen Grady, James Ricks, Matt Southworth, Walt Chura, and many others.  Watch for the video, because a terrific discussion took place around a series of questions posed by the event organizers.  The following are some of the initial responses I had prepared beforehand.

Why Work Against War

War engages me because of its unique relationship to morality.  Killing is a long-standing taboo.  Killing is often if not always the worst thing that can be done to someone.  But killing on a larger scale, organizing numerous people to kill numerous other people is often treated very differently.  When a government kills its own people, that's generally considered an outrage.  But when a government kills another nation's people, that's not always viewed as a moral problem. In fact a government killing its own people is often used as a justification for another nation to come in and kill more of the first nation's people.  Killing in war, and lesser crimes in war, are given a moral pass or even praised.  A U.S. military sniper bragged on the debut episode this week of NBC's war reality show "Stars Earn Stripes" that he had "160 kills."  Not that he killed 160 people.  The people are erased in his language. "I have 160 kills."  And the show itself is a dramatization of U.S. news coverage of U.S. wars, in which the only participants are Americans.  The 95% of victims in our one-sided slaughters are rarely mentioned in U.S. news coverage, and on this new war-o-tainment show the heroic warriors attack empty fields, blow up guard towers with no guards, kick in doors of uninhabited houses, and spend so much time talking about how "real" it all is that none of them seem to notice that there are no enemies or victims to be found.

Veterans storm Obama campaign offices for PFC Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning Support Network
http://bradleymanning.org

 
This afternoon, in a coordinated action across three major U.S. cities, veterans entered Obama campaign offices, demanding a letter be faxed to the central office, calling for freedom for WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning.  Shortly after the veterans made their demand, a large crowd of allies and occupiers marched to the doors to lend support. Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, in Oakland, said, “Bradley had the courage to step up and do what was right. He blew the whistle. It's time for veterans to stand up for him now, and that's what we're doing today. It's time President Obama ensures that Bradley's mistreatment is accounted for.”

Talk Nation Radio: How Drones Appear from the Receiving End

Rafia Zakaria, a Pakistani-American writer, reports on how drones look from thousands of miles away from the desks at which they are "piloted."  Zakaria is a columnist for the English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn, a blogger for Ms. Magazine and for Human Rights Now, and a director for Amnesty International USA.  Drones will not look the same to you after listening to her.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

<object autostart="false" data="http://davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/talknationradio/talknationradio_20120815.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>

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

NBC's Celebrity Warriors: "They barely survived the first week!"

If you sat through the two-hour debut of NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes" on Monday, you heard the promotion for next week's show: "They barely survived the first week!"  And you thought to yourself: "Uh, no, that was me."

What intolerable filth!  In this "reality" show, "celebrities" we've mostly never heard of are paired off with current or former members of the U.S. military to "play" at "missions reminiscent of counterinsurgencies that have taken place all over the world."  It's war for fun.  This sport has all the excitement of golf, but without the same level of danger.  Nobody "barely survived."  Nobody killed anybody.  Nobody's suffering moral anguish from what they've seen and done.  Nobody's lost any limbs.  And nobody's a suicide risk, with the possible exception of the producer.

Just prior to the show's debut, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates, not including the one whose "counterinsurgencies" the show reenacts, released a statement demanding the show's removal from the air:

"Real war is down in the dirt deadly.  People -- military and civilians -- die in ways that are anything but entertaining.  Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence.  War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.  Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public."

In other words, we're dealing here with the crime of war propaganda, not for any particular war, but for the normalization of eternal war on the borders of the empire. 

A crowd protested the show at NBC headquarters in New York on Monday evening, chanting "Shame, Shame, War is not a Game," and delivering a petition bearing thousands of signatures.

The show's first episode opened with co-host and retired general Wesley Clark claiming that soldiers sacrifice for the rest of us.  Dean Cain, an actor who played Superman, remarks that he had never before had to "be a superhero for real."  Numerous other voices go on and on about soldiers' heroism, claiming that they "do this" "for our freedom."  But the "this" turns out to be a game that the contestants describe themselves as "playing."

One of the military "operatives" paired with a celebrity brags about having killed 160 people.  That split-second comment is the only appearance in the two-hour marathon of the enemies or victims of war.  One celebrity asks their partner if he's ever killed anyone, and he replies, "We don't talk about that."  Neither does NBC.  The people whom U.S. troops slaughter in our one-sided occupations or wars are never brought up.

The episode involved training for a mission and then performing the mission as a contest with four people on each team.  The "mission" was to "infiltrate a hostile encampment."  This meant that they had to ride in a helicopter, jump in a lake, climb in a boat, pretend to be shot at by "enemies" not actually shooting or appearing, blow up a guard tower with no guard in it, shoot human-sized paper targets, wade through mud, locate a box of ammunition and move it into a building, and blow up the building by pushing a button.

This stupidity is chock full of exclamations and commentary about real bullets and real explosives that are really real.  It may be the noise of their own voices that prevents anyone involved from discovering that they aren't actually shooting at anyone and no one is actually shooting at them.

Kicking in doors is a big focus of the mission.  This ought to inform thoughtful viewers about what "battlefields" look like in "counter insurgencies."  Our wars are fought in people's homes.  But when these celebrities and the tough guys they worship kick in doors there are no screaming children behind them.  This act of terrorism is transformed into an act of athletic accomplishment.  Blowing up a poor person's house is transformed into an act of special effects, creating a gigantic explosion with the push of a button while being lifted on a rope tied to a helicopter.  When, at the end of the show, it is time to eliminate the worst warrior from future programs, the two worst warmakers thus far pair off in a contest that involves kicking in a door, entering a room, and shooting a bunch of humanoid targets in the head.  I wonder which missions that is reminiscent of.

Muhammad Ali famously remarked, when refusing to participate in war: "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. . . .  No Viet Cong ever called me nigger."  His daughter Laila Ali is a Stars Earn Stripes celebrity contestant blissfully unconcerned about whether or not she has a quarrel with the people who theoretically might inhabit the buildings she's shooting up.  War lovers must feel some satisfaction in having brought Ali's daughter into the fold, along with the late football star and soldier Pat Tillman, who had turned against our wars but for whose charity one of the Stars Earn Stripes celebrities is competing.  When one of the celebrities lies, "I know there's a chance I could die," one imagines he must have in mind friendly fire.  Like Tillman, he would die with no enemy present.  To make the show seem dangerous, the producers show one celebrity, Dolvett Quince, having trouble swimming.

The losing team in each mission/sporting event loses by completing the mission with the slowest time.  Yet the show itself is almost unbearably slow, repetitive (literally replaying the same little snippets of "action"), and so packed with commercial breaks that it's hard to imagine people waiting through them voluntarily.  But the whole thing is a commercial for war, the business of 49% NBC owner General Electric.  No matter how small the audience for this slime, it is likely to be disproportionately made up of young people contemplating enlistment.  And what a massive and deadly lie this show is to them!

These celebrities are unlikely to suffer PTSD or to die in the most common way in which actual members of the military die (suicide).  There's no fear, no horror, no revulsion, no moral crisis.  Asked what their biggest concerns are prior to their "mission" they say things like "how high the helicopter will fly."  This is beyond promoting war as a hell that is somehow necessary as a last resort.  This is war as exciting sport with no moral component, no killing, no dying, no downside.  Now we don't have to be sociopaths to support the military as a jobs program; we can be patrons of the arts (or the sports anyway).

At one point, one of the celebrities, Eve Torres, in tears, says that she appreciates those who do such difficult stunts "every day" as their job. "We do this for fun," she says.  Yet, when her heroes practice these extreme sports they do so with real victims in real nations, generating real enemies.  NBC doesn't include that complication.  Nowhere in Stars Earn Stripes do we hear about the list of countries that Wesley Clark said the Pentagon wanted to attack and overthrow right after 9-11: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.  And of course we are not told what he said the motivation for those attacks would be, namely trying to look strong and to dominate the globe.  Clark was outraged to learn that "the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments, it's not to deter conflict; we're going to have to invade countries, and you know my mind was spinning; they wanted us to destabilize the Middle East . . . . They could hardly wait to finish Iraq so that they could move into Syria."  Clark was talking then about the same sort of people who are running the U.S. military now.

Stars Earn Strips could have gone differently.  Imagine if the "mission" were to put out a fire or rescue people from a storm.  Or the mission could have been to save our atmosphere.  Or how about a mission to see who is fastest at building the fastest and most energy efficient trains?  Or . . . anything useful in any way!

The excitement (such as it is) of NBC's "reality show" lies precisely in its being "reminiscent" of war, and not of some beneficial project.  And yet it is not war.  And it may be doomed to low ratings.  If it were war, however, its ratings wouldn't necessarily rise.  Americans don't want to see families slaughtered, children mutilated, whole regions of the world ruined for human life, refugees struggling to survive, cluster bombs and depleted uranium killing for generations.  What's fun about that?

If NBC would like to show the uglier side of war, we've provided resources to get them started at http://StarsEarnStripes.org

Big Peace Gathering in New York State August 17-18

The 14th Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference will be held in upstate New York on August 17-18, 2012.

Speakers including Thomas Gumbleton, Kathy Kelly, John Horgan, Clare Grady, David Swanson, Matt Southworth, Walt Chura, and James Ricks will address the topic of revolutionary love.

Learn more: http://kateripeaceconference.org/2012Conference/2012-conference

Who Are the 1 Percent?

What Paul Ryan Has and Obama Wants

According to the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama's reelection campaign and Democratic political groups have been eager for Romney to pick Ryan, the architect of plans to slash government spending and overhaul entitlement programs that Democrats believe are political losers."  ABC agrees: "The selection of  Ryan as running mate makes it far more likely that Medicare, Social Security, and dramatic spending cuts will be as central to the campaign conversation this fall as jobs and the economy. Adding some of those famed political third rails into the mix is not just a potential risk Romney is willing to take, it is also clearly a potential risk he felt he had to take."

So, cutting Medicare and Social Security are unpopular, and Obama benefits from Romney's risky move in picking a runningmate willing to cut them.  That's the story.

Now, however, read this from the New York Times: "The news media have played a crucial role in Mr. Obama’s career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator. As president, however, he has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit."

So Obama too is willing to take the political risk of cutting the popular programs called Medicare and Social Security.  In fact, what Obama wants is not to protect these programs from cuts, but rather to receive appropriate credit from the media corporations for his willingness to cut them.  This, we are about to be told endlessly, is in stark contrast to Romney-Ryan's willingness to cut Medicare and Social Security.  But the biggest contrast seems to be that the media gives Romney and Ryan the credit that Obama covets.

Oh no, Obama supporters will reply, there's a big difference.  Romney wants to cut these programs, while Obama is willing to cut them. Romney is evil, while Obama is noble and gracious in his appeasing of evil.  I'm sorry, but won't the catfood that grandma lives on taste as bitter regardless of whether her income was removed maliciously or accommodatingly?

Oh, but Romney-and-Ryan want to cut more than Obama wants to cut. 

Are you sure?  RR need only triple their demand for Obama to double his.  The longer the debate goes on, the more old people Obama wants to starve to demonstrate his willingness to accommodate.  In fact, exactly how many old people starve -- whether Iranians living under sanctions or Americans living under austerity -- is hardly relevant.  The important thing is to have gone further toward meeting RR's demand than RR went toward meeting yours. 

But what about the demand of the majority of the country that Social Security and Medicare be expanded rather than cut?  What about the popularity of lifting the cap on payroll taxes, lowering the retirement age, and expanding Medicare to include us all?  Will that agenda be advanced by cheering for a compromiser over an unapologetic crapitalist?

Of course not.  What would move both of these reprehensible candidates away from deeper cuts to decent programs, and toward deeper cuts in the war machine, the fossil fuel funding, the bankster bailouts, and the "Bush" tax cuts is an independent movement that makes its minimum demand an absolute bar on any cuts to Social Security or Medicare whatsoever. 

If you don't soon see progressive groups advancing that demand, expect bad times ahead, regardless of who wins the world's worst reality drama.

Lies, Damn Lies, and War Lies

Prepared remarks for Veterans For Peace Convention 2012.
Prepared to follow remarks by Nicolas "Sandy" Davies
Convention theme: "Liberating the Americas: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean"
Remarks theme: "U.S. Military Expansion since the End of the Cold War"
Accompanying powerpoint:  
http://warisacrime.org/downloads/misleading2.pptx

At my house I can see a hill out the window, and a house on it.  And if I go to that house, I can see another house on the next hill.  The first house is Thomas Jefferson's, and the second James Monroe's.  Jefferson's record is quite mixed, not just as the slave owner for equality and freedom, but also as a developer of the disastrous two-party system and of an even more disastrous U.S. navy and a U.S. military with a centuries' old tradition now of attacking Libya.  Jefferson's version of that attack also introduced suicide-bombing to that region of the globe, as a U.S. ship full of sailors intentionally blew itself up in port.

But it's hard to put that record of blood-drenched hypocrisy up against the record of the doctrine that bears the name of President Monroe.  In fact, there is already something terrifyingly dishonest about calling a barbaric shout of dominance a doctrine, as seems to happen with each president now.  Declaring a bunch of nations independent of another bunch of nations can sound innocent only to those making the declaration, and only if they've already begun to convince themselves that the whole world is their territory, a notion made explicit by Theodore Roosevelt's corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.  Latin America was not to be attacked by bad attackers, only by good attackers, meaning either the U.S. military or private U.S. entrepreneurial imperialists seeking nations to rule.

Roosevelt looked beyond Latin America, of course, as the United States, heartbroken at having reached the Pacific and run out of Native American nations to destroy, had moved into the Pacific as well as the Caribbean.  The nation of Japan had put an end to war, with others or itself, in 1614, and remained peaceful for two centuries, developing the sort of culture that flourishes in peace -- an action that has occurred too many times in human history to take seriously the desperate moans of those who like to pretend that war is in our biology.  (And if it were, wouldn't we suffer PTSD from its absence, not its presence?)  In 1872, U.S. General Charles LeGendre had been trying unsuccessfully to get China to attack and occupy Taiwan.  He made the same pitch to the Japanese and found them far more interested.  LeGendre told the Japanese that they needed a Monroe Doctrine for their area of the world, meaning Japanese dominance at the expense of any competitors.  LeGendre pushed the Japanese to attack Taiwan and Okinawa and Korea, actions that shocked the people of Asia.  

U.S. policy became promotion of U.S. imperialism as far as it could reach, and Japanese imperialism beyond that.  Theodore Roosevelt pushed the Monroe Doctrine idea on the Japanese, and by 1905 was openly advocating a Japanese Monroe Doctrine in speeches.  But he expected the Japanese to both adopt the worldview of conquering civilizers, and respect limits -- including by respecting U.S. possessions such as the Philippines, and Hawaii.  Hawaii had been grabbed by the United States as a function of the original Monroe Doctrine, the argument being that the Monroe Doctrine required grabbing Hawaii before the British did -- regardless of whether Hawaii was actually part of the Americas.  President McKinley explained the need to occupy the Philippines as the only means to keep Spain, Germany, or France from taking over a barbaric people who obviously could not be left to their own devices.  But Roosevelt managed, in the end, to simultaneously give the Japanese Korea and turn the Japanese against the United States.  Japanese imperialism became a rival to the United States, up until World War II when another Roosevelt successfully provoked a Japanese attack on U.S. pacific territories in order to persuade the U.S. public to enter another war in Europe.

Soldiers Who Refuse to Kill

One of the most inspiring events thus far at the Veterans For Peace National Convention underway in Miami was a presentation on Thursday by several veterans who have refused to participate in war. Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse. In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time. Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.

Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty. President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office. Condon never "served" a day, in either the military "service" or prison.

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