You are hereBlogs / davidswanson's blog
Remarks from a plenary at the Stop the War Coalition's June 11, 2011, conference in London on "Afghanistan and the War on Terror: 10 Years On."
I want to thank the Stop the War Coalition and Lindsey German in particular for having invited me here, and for having invited me to a similar conference five years ago. Maybe in 2016 we can meet under better circumstances. I'm especially glad to have come back to Europe because George W. Bush can no longer do so. He recently canceled a trip to Switzerland because an indictment for torture awaited him there.
It is an honor to speak together with Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Sanasino Al-Yemen, Mohammed Kozbar, and George Galloway, whose wonderful TV show I was on yesterday.
Remarks from a session at the Stop the War Coalition's June 11, 2011, conference in London on "Afghanistan and the War on Terror: 10 Years On."
I want to thank the Stop the War Coalition and Lindsey German in particular for having invited me here. And it is an honor to speak together with Steve Bell and Kevin Ovenden, and I'm sorry Joe Glenton was unable to be here. Kevin and I will be on "The Real Deal" with George Galloway tomorrow, so please watch.
Afghanistan was supposed to be the campaign promise that President Barack Obama actually kept. He said he would escalate that war and enlarge the military and strike into Pakistan, and sure enough he did. But he made another promise since the election that we actually want him to keep, and he's going to violate it before the next election. Clearly we need an activist force apart from elections to address this.
By David Swanson
Opening Remarks at a Dialogue With Islam.
I want to thank Shahinoor Ali and http://dialoguewithislam.org for inviting me and I'm honored to speak together with Dr. Azzam Tamami.
I don't know about the West, but I have some thoughts on the United States. I recently flew from California to Washington, D.C., and when the plane landed, the pilot came on the intercom to tell everyone to celebrate: our government had killed Osama bin Laden. This was better than winning the Super Bowl, he said.
Set aside for a moment the morality of cheering for the killing of a human being -- which despite the pilot's prompting nobody on the plane did. In purely Realpolitik terms, killing prominent individuals whom we've previously supported has never resolved anything.
I, Robert Gates, resign my position as Secretary of Defense of the United States of America with deep regret for actions that do not reflect my true values. For decades I have experienced a steady lapse of judgment for which I accept full responsibility. I lied about the strength of the Soviet Union and failed to see its collapse coming. I lied about abandoning Afghanistan and went on funding terrorists. I've been lying about cutting the military budget while actually increasing it. I've pushed for war escalations and fought against withdrawals. I'm sincerely sorry for these mistakes. I apologize to those my actions have killed, wounded, disemboweled, traumatized, or driven suicidal. Above all I apologize to my wife.
They're libertarian, I'm leftist. They want to close all public schools, I want to create a massive jobs program in green energy. And yet I tell you this:
Support http://antiwar.com because I need it to turn to for news on our wars
Go there right now and tell me if you've ever seen a more convenient, comprehensive, and compelling source of news on our numerous ongoing wars.
Antiwar.com needs our support in order to keep doing what it's doing, including Antiwar Radio.
Give them a hand!
The New York Times has this headline:
"Steeper Pullout Is Raised as Option for Afghanistan"
over an article that takes what was earlier reported as a possible withdrawl of 5,000 troops and contractors (or 2.5% of the 200,000 in Afghanistan) and reduces it to:
"3,000 to 5,000 troops."
I am assuming that actually means troops AND contractors, rather than troops plus a similar number of contractors as well.
According to the NY Times, the withdrawal in July could be EVEN MORE that that. Wow! But no number is given. Instead the idea of withdrawing a mere 30,000 is pushed off into the distant future as an ultimate goal.
When other nations' governments go off track, their people do something about it. In Tunisia and Egypt people have nonviolently claimed power in a way that has inspired Americans in Wisconsin and other states, as well as the people of Spain and the rest of the world.
Washington, D.C., is the weakest point in our democracy, without which state-level reform cannot succeed. Most Americans want our wars ended, our corporations and billionaires taxed, and our rights expanded rather than curtailed. We want our money invested in jobs and green energy, not a global military that can't stop itself. Our government in Washington goes in the opposite direction, opposing popular will on these major issues, regardless of personality or party.
UPDATE: HRes292 passed. HCR51 failed.
The U.S. House of Representatives today will vote on two resolutions.
H.C.R. 51 sponsored by Dennis Kucinich would -- if also passed by the Senate -- have the force of law and end the Libya War. If this does not pass, Rep. Jerrold Nadler said on the floor this morning, there are no circumstances in which a president will not be able to go to war at his/her whim.
Fearing that Kucinich's resolution might pass, Speaker John Boehner has introduced H.Res. 292, a toothless resolution that would not carry any force and not even go to the Senate for a vote. This resolution admits that the war is unauthorized but does not end it or even suggest ending it.
Congress members are speaking in support of congressional power but bowing to partisan power and presidential power. They need to hear from you.
Call (202) 224-3121
Tell your representative you want a lawmaker, not a court jester.
Speaker of the House John Boehner is expected to bring to a vote on Friday a remarkable resolution called H. Res. 292. This document restores a damaged U.S. Constitution to its full glory in much the way that a spray-on sunless tanning product could restore a collaterally damaged victim who had been liberated by white phosphorous.
Boehner has delayed a vote on a straightforward resolution (H.C.R. 51) that would end U.S. war in Libya. Here's the full text:
"Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution."
Yes, yes, poverty exists, just as war does, and the two feed off each other. When I titled a book "War Is A Lie" I meant that the justifications offered for wars were false and that the idea that we must always have wars is false. Our government doesn't market new poverty campaigns in the same way it does wars. It markets campaigns to dismantle healthcare and pension systems or to eliminate foreign aid or to restrict organizing rights. But our culture pushes the false notion that poverty must always be with us.
If the U.S. Constitution says one thing, a treaty ratified by the United States says another, a law passed by Congress yet another, and another law passed by Congress another thing still, while a signing statement radically changes that last law but itself differs with an executive order, all of which statements of law conflict with a number of memos drafted by the Office of Legal Council (some secret and some leaked), but a President has announced that the law is something completely different from all of this, and in practice the government defies all of the above including the presidential announcement . . . in such a case, the obvious but possibly pointless question arises: what's legal?
The above theoretical example of legal confusion sounds extreme, but it is not far off the actual situation with regard to some of our most important public policies. Take the example of U.S. warmaking in Libya. Is that legal?
It is a crime to learn about a crime and not report it.
The Libya War is a crime.
The White House / Pentagon has pressured Congress to delay voting on ending the Libya War and to instead sit through a secret briefing about that crime.
Those who do so and stay silent become accomplices.
Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden and the recent Middle-East speech of Barak Obama many now feel this is a ‘new chapter’ in US diplomacy in the Muslim World. How realistic are these positive expectations or have we been on this road before?
To discuss these and other issues Dialogue With Islam has invited the following distinguished panel:
David Swanson (US Author and activist)
Sir David Blatherwick (former ambassorder of Egypt)
Dr Azzam Tamami (Director of the Islamic Institute of Political thought)
Tickets are £1 by reservation - Limited seats ( or £2 at the door)
Please note this is to cover the hiring of the venue; no profits are made from this event
Please text on 07956 411558
Date: Friday 10th June 2011
Venue: Jagonari Centre
183-185 Whitechapel Road,
Nearest Tube: Whitechapel Station and Aldgate East.
Memorial Day is nice, I suppose. Veterans Day is all right. Patriots Day can be fun. Yellow Ribbon Day's not bad. But you will be pleased to hear that on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted, in pure bipartisan harmony, to add the following gem to the big war-funding, war-expanding, bill that now goes to the Senate:
"The President shall designate a day entitled a National Day of Honor to celebrate members of the Armed Forces who are returning from deployment in support of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat areas."
Catchy, ain't it? I can't wait to find out what day the President will so designate. I do hope it's my birthday, but I'm not trying to be greedy -- I know you all just had the same thought. While, oddly, not a single newspaper took notice, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (Dem., Texas) proposed this historic bit of legislation on the floor of the House on Thursday thusly:
Here's George Will asking why the left does not demand Obama's impeachment for illegal war in Libya. Sure, one answer is that there's NOBODY in Congress, not one single member of any party, even pretending to be inclined to impeach Obama for this. But another answer is that Obama belongs to the Good Party, and if he belonged to the Bad Party then we would be obliged to object to illegal wars.
Get off your asses, people, and back Kucinich's resolution next week to end the war on Libya. And if it fails, then ramp up our demands. If the Senate goes along with the House next week, and if Obama does not veto the bill (as of course he does not want to do) then a new law will override the War Powers Act and "legalize" illegal wars. But the Constitution will remain rotting there in the National Archives. And the Constitution is a higher law than the Forever War Defense Authorization Act of 2012.
Watch for announcements of serious actions to be taken in October, but do not wait.
On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives backed eternal worldwide war and imprisonment powers for all future presidents, but blocked any ground troops in Libya (except for the ones already there, since the measure included no consequences for its violation). The House also unanimously created a new national holiday to celebrate the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It defunded the US Institute for Peace (saving the cost of 5 hours in Afghanistan). And it required that all suspected foreign terrorists be tried by the military and not in courts (unless bullets are put in their heads first).
All in a good day's work.
Here's the play-by-play:
What each of the 152 amendments does: here.
May 26, Thursday, 10:01 a.m. Our state, separated from church, is praying to its Lord.
10:02 a.m. Our state just pledged allegiance to our military.
9:08 P.M. -
POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS - At the conclusion of debate on the Amash amendment, the Chair put the question on adoption of the amendment and by voice vote, announced that the ayes had prevailed. Mr. McKeon demanded a recorded vote and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of adoption of the amendment until a time to be announced.
8:42 P.M. -
DEBATE - By unanimous consent, the Committee of the Whole proceeded with 20 minutes of debate on the Amash amendment, equally divided and controlled.
Amendment offered by Mr. Amash.
An amendment numbered 50 printed in House Report 112-88 to strike section 1034 of the bill, relating to the authorization for use of military force.
Join me on BlogTalkRadio tonight 8-10 ET w/ questions http://t.co/gpZlKet
The White House has put out a statement expressing its disapproval of various bits of H.R.1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Here's the most interesting, if not the most adamant, objection:
"Detainee Matters: The Administration strongly objects to section 1034 which, in purporting to affirm the conflict, would effectively recharacterize its scope and would risk creating confusion regarding applicable standards. At a minimum, this is an issue that merits more extensive consideration before possible inclusion."
And here's Section 1034:
"Congress affirms that--
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
The "Defense Authorization" bill now before Congress, HR
1750 1540, is arguably the worst bill ever considered likely to pass into law. It includes $118 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars a majority of Americans wants ended. But that's not why it's the worst bill ever.
This bill also includes $553 billion for other military waste. That's enough money to save and improve a lot of lives if it weren't being dumped into the war machine. But that's not why this is the worst bill ever.
The bill limits the President’s ability to implement the New START agreement unless there is full funding for the nuclear weapons complex, bars the retirement of nuclear weapons until two new nuclear facilities are completed, and bars further nuclear weapons reductions below New START levels unless approved by Congress. But that's not why this is the worst bill ever.
The bill invests heavily in a National Missile "Defense" system based in California and Alaska.
This bill revives a second engine for the F-35 that the Pentagon has no use for.
This bill bars any transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo.
But none of that is why this is the worst bill ever.
This is the worst bill ever because it gives presidents the power to single-handedly launch wars and to lock people up without trial.
This legislation, Section 1034 of the worst bill ever, undoes the limitations on one-man rule put in place by the U.S. Constitution over two centuries ago. This is the biggest formal shift of power in our government since we've had a government.
We have military operations now in some 75 countries, and a significant war in Libya, all illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Act. But the worst bill ever will erase the War Powers Act, and the Constitution will simply be ignored.
Meanwhile the significant withdrawal that President Obama promised to begin in Afghanistan has been scaled back to a withdrawal of 2.5 percent of U.S. forces
Call Congress today and tell your Representative and your two Senators:
Enough is enough!
End the wars!
Bring the troops home!
Convert the economy to peace!
And do not pass the worst bill ever!
Call toll-free 1-888-231-9276.
Movements for justice have historically been driven by a small percentage of any population. One percent of Americans nonviolently occupying Washington, D.C., could make Cairo and Madison and Madrid look like warm-up acts. It is certainly true that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens is the only thing that ever has changed the world for the better.
So, what happens if a society picks out a significant slice of its population, one including many thoughtful and committed citizens, and drugs them?
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) held a first-time, one-day, little publicized event last September that allowed people to turn in their extra prescription drugs. The DEA reports collecting 242,000 pounds or 121 tons. A second such day was held in April with 376,593 pounds or 188 tons of pills collected. This is the stuff nobody wants and is willing to hand in to the government. This is not the amount that's out in circulation. That amount is no doubt in proportion to the roaring flood of television ads for the stuff. "More Americans currently abuse prescription drugs," says the DEA, "than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined. . . . [I]ndividuals that abuse prescription drugs often obtained them from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet." And that's just the users said to be abusing.
PITTSBURGH (NEWSRADIO 1020 KDKA) — KDKA Radio’s Chris Moore spoke with David Swanson about his views on what war really is.
Swanson is the author of “War is a Lie” and expresses his views on how wars really could have been avoided.
Rupert Murdoch, who got his start in business marketing rats and manure, has chosen to deny Italy access to a television network that has presented critical coverage of both Murdoch and of leading Italian media baron and prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The network, Current TV, is the project of a man identified in Italy primarily as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore.
By Bruce K. Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
This morning I received an urgent message (see below) from Jeju Island, South Korea saying that yesterday eight leaders of the protest effort against construction of a Navy base had been arrested. Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi was one of those arrested - her second time in recent months.
Gangjeong village resident Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is now in his 45th day of his hunger strike while in jail for trying to block a construction truck. He has vowed to die in jail unless base construction is halted.