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The Global War on Terror, in the Original German

In 1939, Sebastian Haffner sat down and wrote a pre-history of Nazism.

Nazism had not been inevitable. It had not progressed steadily without setbacks. But it had been growing for many years, even before the name for it existed. It had been coming since the end of the Great War.

By the late 1920s, according to Haffner, "Berlin became quite an international city. Admittedly, the sinister Nazi types already lurked in the wings, as 'we' could not fail to notice with deep disgust. They spoke of 'Eastern vermin' with murder in their eyes and sneeringly of 'Americanization.' Whereas 'we,' a segment of the younger generation difficult to define but instantly and mutually recognizable, were not only friendly toward foreigners, but enthusiastic about them."

Talk Nation Radio: Medea Benjamin on Drone Wars and This Weekend's Upcoming Drone Summit

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and of CodePink: Women for Peace.  She is the author of the new book "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control" and an organizer of the Drone Summit being planned in Washington, D.C., on April 28-29 by groups including Code Pink, Reprieve, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.  Medea discusses her books, the summit, and what can be done and is being done to oppose drone wars.

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 Radio4All or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

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What a Real Peace Candidate Looks Like

I recently wrote about a conversation I'd had with a fairly typical Democratic candidate for Congress (O.K. perhaps he was below average) -- a former military officer who claims to be for peace, but whose every solution involves war.  I asked him to make commitments on what sort of things he would vote for or against, and he evaded every such question, while maintaining that he held a desire for peace somewhere in his heart.

The suspicion might arise in a reasonable reader that candidates simply don't make commitments and perhaps shouldn't.  Every situation is unique.  Candidates can't know the details of a future bill or the context in which it might be brought to a vote.  They can simply tell you what values they hold dear, what accomplishments grace their resumes, and how utterly worthless their opponents are.  More than that one should not ask.

Text of AP Story on Afghanistan Agreement Translated into Human

"KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. and Afghanistan reached a deal Sunday on a long-delayed strategic partnership agreement that ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade beyond 2014, the deadline for most foreign forces to withdraw."

What Bradley Manning Means to Us

Chase Madar's new book, The Passion of Bradley Manning, pulls together the essential facts that we should try to somehow deliver to television viewers and victims of our education system.  The subtitle is "The Story of the Suspect Behind the Largest Security Breach in U.S. History."

The book looks at Manning's life story, his alleged action (leaking voluminous materials to Wikileaks), the value of the material he made available to us, the status of whistleblowers in our country, the torture inflicted on Manning during his imprisonment, the similar treatment routinely inflicted on hundreds of thousands of U.S. prisoners without the same scandal resulting, and the value of running a society in accordance with written laws.

The table of contents sounds predictable, but the most valuable parts of Madar's book are the tangents, the riffs, the expansions on questions such as whether knowing the truth does or does not tend to set us free.  Does learning what our government is up to help to improve our government's behavior?  Has the rule of law become an empty phrase or worse?  Who is standing up for Bradley Manning, and who should be?

Madar does not pretend indifference to the fact that Manning took great risk and has greatly suffered for blowing the whistle on countless criminal and immoral actions.  The first sentence of the book is "Bradley Manning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom," as of course he does -- unless that medal is now too tarnished by its actual recipients including George Tenet and L. Paul Bremer.  Madar remarks:

"Thanks to Manning's alleged disclosures, we have a sense of what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have an image of how Washington operates in the world.  Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War.  We now know how Washington pressured the German government to block the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man, Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation.  We know how our State Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase in Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation."

Of course, such examples could be extended for many pages.  Manning's is indeed the largest revelation of our government's behavior we have had.  His is the Louisiana Purchase of whistleblowing.  And, of course, if you are going to have a government of, by, and for the people, then the people have to find out what that government is doing -- and stop believing they are better off and more patriotic not knowing.

Madar does not hesitate to point out the situation we are in at the moment in presidential and partisan terms:

"President Obama came into office promising a 'sunshine' policy for his administration while singing praises of whistleblowers.  Instead, he has launched the fiercest campaign against whistleblowers the republic has ever seen, and dragged our foreign policy deeper into the shadows. . . ."

". . . As soon as he stepped into the Oval Office, the new President pledged never to launch any probe, much less prosecution, to hold these figures responsible.  'Look forward, not backward' is the slogan: any rules that threaten the high and mighty can be shrugged off.  Obama loyalists such as Nation magazine columnist Melissa Harris-Perry begged Americans to reconcile with Dick Cheney, as if the power to forgive belonged to Americans, and not to Iraqi victims -- a perversion of Christian doctrine that allows the perpetrators to tearfully forgive themselves."

(Just ask Sibel Edmonds how whistleblowers are being treated today.  Her new book "Classified Woman" about her days at the FBI has been submitted to the FBI for censorship, the FBI has been unable to find a single word to black out, and yet the FBI is refusing to permit publication of the entire book.)

Manning's contribution has been global.  His revelations have benefitted the people of numerous nations with which the State Department communicated in the cables that Manning is said to have leaked.  The Arab Spring was not caused by Bradley Manning, but the information he made public has played a major role. 

Madar does an excellent job of relating what he has been able to learn about Manning's childhood.  Here was a young man with principles and independence, who partially believed the hype about wars being good for the world, who was horribly abused by the U.S. military, but whose motivation -- even if I suspect as well some retaliation against his abusers -- was primarily almost certainly benefitting the public at large, both at home and abroad.  Manning says so quite clearly and repeatedly in as-yet-unverified chat logs.  It was when the military forced him to take part in punishing Iraqi whistleblowers that Manning had a major change of perspective.  "I was actively involved in something that I was completely against," he posted in a chat.

Manning is not only the whistleblower who has told us the most, and the whistleblower who may suffer the most for his heroism, but also the whistleblower who revealed crimes and abuses that were also known by or knowable by the greatest number of other people -- all of whom chose to remain silent.  Some three million Americans have a security clearance.  Most of what Manning released was "confidential," six percent was "secret," and none of it was "top secret."  In the world of whistleblowers, normal is abnormal.  The common sense duty to "say something" is you see something makes you a freak.  And never more so than in the heroism and vilification of young Bradley Manning.

One comment in Madar's excellent book strikes me as out of place, as perhaps inserted by an editor:

"Few are the American intellectuals who unequivocally defend the leaks: Michael Moore, Jesse Ventura, and CodePink's core of leftwing peace activists -- and that's about it."

Are those all intellectuals?  And is that the full list of people who have defended the leaks?  Much later in the book, Glenn Greenwald -- who really deserves great credit for advancing this issue -- gets a mention.  So does Coleen Rowley, with whom I recall protesting Manning's treatment at Quantico, along with hundreds of others.  Then Daniel Ellsberg, Roseanne Barr, Jack Shafer, and Dennis Kucinich get a nod.  Ray McGovern receives a lengthy and well deserved discussion.  We also learn that Manning receives hundreds of letters of support every week from all over the world (some of them are from this country).  We find out that "Free Bradley" signs dot this country's Occupy encampments.  And after the book is over, in the "Further Reading" section at the back, we discover that there is a Bradley Manning Support Network, Kevin Gosztola's blog at FireDogLake, Marcy Wheeler, Jane Hamsher, and others who indeed have supported what Manning has been accused of doing.  Not what it should be, of course, but not so terribly few of us after all.

I wonder also about Madar's take on whether knowing the truth is helpful in politics.  Ultimately, of course, Madar is in favor of public knowledge of government's behavior.  But I think he undervalues it a bit at times.  "When does war end?" he quotes Alexander Cockburn asking himself. "One side is annihilated, the money runs out, the troops mutiny, the government falls, or fears it will.  With the U.S. war in Afghanistan none of these conditions has been met." Nor with the U.S. war on Iraq, which has virtually ended nonetheless. 

I also would modify slightly Madar's take on the rule of law.  As Madar sees it, many of the outrages that Manning revealed, even the killings in the "Collateral Murder" video, even the handing over of prisoners to the Iraqi government to torture, were immoral but legal, because the laws of war allow them.  Madar is dealing with jus in bello, laws on the conduct of war, not jus ad bellum, laws on what makes a war or an occupation just to begin with.  In fact there is no just war.  There is no legal war.  Every single war has been illegal since the Kellogg Briand Pact of 1928.  The U.N. Charter seeks to legalize wars that are either labeled "defensive" or authorized by the United Nations.  The U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are neither defensive nor authorized by the United Nations.  The U.S. Constitution forbids wars not declared by Congress.  Congress has not declared a war since 1941.

Certainly the law is often unjust and must be nonviolently resisted.  But when we have good legal arguments on our side, we shouldn't always be so reluctant to use them.  If torture can be "legalized" by the vacuous ramblings of John Yoo, if bribery can be "legalized" through the human rights of corporations established by a court reporter's marginalia, why shouldn't we legalize peace by reviving awareness of actual laws actually on the books?

As with most books I review, so must I comment on this one that I wish people would stop lowballing the death count in Iraq by almost an order of magnitude.

I must also strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this book for everyone you know.

Watch for an upcoming edition of Talk Nation Radio with Chase Madar.

Write to Bradley to encourage him at:
Bradley Manning
#89289
JRCF
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth KS 66027-2315.

David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio

Veterans For Peace Among 33 Arrested Outside Drone Base in New York State

Three members of Veterans For Peace -- Russell Brown, John Amidon, and Elliott Adams -- were among 33 peaceful protesters arrested on Sunday outside Hancock Air Field in New York State.  Almost all of the 33 were arrested preemptively, as they walked single-file and silently along a road, prior to reaching the military base, at which they intended to approach the gate and deliver a written statement.

Here is video of the walk:

And of the arrests:

Here is a news story featuring a photo of Elliott Adams being arrested: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/military_protesters_turned_awa.html

VFP Logo

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones reported that the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department made the arrests in Mattydale, NY, two blocks from the entrance to the base.  "Those arrested included an 87 year old woman in a wheelchair, parents (accompanying their children), a member of the press, and the group's attorney Ron Van Norstrand. Cameras, camcorders and phones were confiscated by the Sheriff's Department." http://blog.upstatedroneaction.org

Elliott Adams is Past President of Veterans For Peace, and current Nonviolent Training Coordinator.  He had also been arrested in 2011 as one of the Hancock 38 protesting at the same base.  Adams commented after this weekend's arrest:

"Once again local law enforcement obstructed me from complying with the Nuremberg principles. As a veteran of several war zones I understand the importance of international law like the Geneva conventions and the remarkable UN Charter. But as I tried to serve an indictment to those committing war crimes I was arrested preemptively.

"As veterans we know how important international laws like the Geneva conventions are. We know that weaponized drones are continuously being used to commit war crimes and even crimes against peace.  The Nuremberg Principles obligate us, as citizens, to stop our government from committing these crimes.  Our arrest on Sunday was a clear case of trampling on our 1st Amendment right to 'petition our government for a redress of grievances.'

"It is outrageous," Adams remarked, "that on the other side of this fence people are being murdered, albeit at long distance, and the Sheriff will not even investigate. On this side of the fence we are arrested for a 'violation of permit requirement.'"

Three women succeeded on Sunday in reading aloud at the base gate an indictment addressed to "the Service Members of Hancock Air Base."  The Indictment states, in part:

"By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes.  We charge the chain of command, from President Barack Obama, to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, to Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, to every drone crew, to every service member supporting or defending these illegal actions, with the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians."
http://warisacrime.org/content/indictment-drone-warriors

Adams' statement, made in court at the trial of the Hancock 38 last November is available online:
http://warisacrime.org/content/elliott-adams-member-hancock-38-and-new-hancock-34-made-statement-trial-november-1-2011

As is his statement at the sentencing hearing:
http://warisacrime.org/content/elliott-adams-sentencing-statement-november-11-2011

Adams told the judge: "I am proud to accept the consequences of my acts and any jail time.  I do not want any suspended sentence. If you give me one, also please let me know how I can violate it before I leave the courtroom."  The judge, however, gave Adams a suspended sentence and probation conditions.  Adams has not ceased protesting drone wars.

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

##

So Much for Putting Your Hope in a Dept of Peace

The group that has been pushing hardest for a Department of Peace is now pushing an Obama strategy that is almost certainly intended to facilitate war:

 

The Peace Alliance

Supporter,

This Monday, April 23rd, the peacebuilding community will mark a historic milestone.

President Obama will speak at the US Holocaust Museum on Monday to unveil the Atrocity Prevention Board, a high-level board within the National Security Council, which will greatly enhance our country’s capacity to make peacebuilding a priority.

Listen to the President’s speech via webcast at 9:45-10:30am ET Monday, live from the Holocaust Museum: www.ushmm.org/prevent.

After the speech our team will visit the White House to celebrate this milestone.  Join us virtually at 1:00pm ET at www.ushmm.org/prevent as Senior Administration officials speak on a White House panel describing the role of the Atrocity Prevention Board.

Years of underinvestment in civilian tools, like diplomacy and development, have hindered the US government’s ability to help prevent atrocities around the globe. Establishment of the interagency Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) is an important milestone in developing a comprehensive policy framework to prevent future atrocities.

We are proud to be a part of the Prevention and Protection Working Group, a coalition of peacebuilding organizations that have advocated for this reform.  Over the last seven years The Peace Alliance has called on the Administration to focus on making peacebuilding a priority at the highest-echelons of power. Monday’s announcement is a major development towards making that vision a reality.

Please tune in for the President’s speech on Monday and the following panel discussion to celebrate this historic development.    

-Aaron, Eli, Matt, and the Peace Alliance team

Twitter The Peace Alliance
P.O. Box 27601, Washington, DC 20038 | Phone: 202-684-2553
 

How Dare Russia

"Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier -- than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court.  You are merely planting cynicism in their souls." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The United States Congress is outraged.  Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower.  In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you.  And not just I.  NPR will tell you.  This calls for action.  There's a bill in the Senate and a bill in the House.  The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. 

Who wouldn't support the rule of law and accountability?

Well, let me think.

Oh, I know. The United States Congress. 

Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture.  They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture.  Bush's torture program tortured numerous people to death.  And what has Congress wrought?

No impeachments.

No enforcement of subpoenas.

No defunding of operations.

No criminalizing of secrecy.

No protection of whistleblowers.

No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.

In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.

But keep hope alive.

Change is on the way.

Look!

Up in the sky!

It's Captain Peace Prize!

Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else -- certainly above the rule of law or accountability.

Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the U.S. Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of "State Secrets" beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability.  Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time.  Poland is prosecuting its bit players in U.S. crimes.  Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role.  But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power. 

The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won't stand for it.  Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia.  It's a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home.  Why not apply it abroad?

Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder.  The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones. 

The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made U.S. war-making look bad by revealing facts about it. 

But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are U.S. crimes.  Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law.  And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action.  U.S. immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.

Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.

Torture on Trial

Cases come in by the thousands from all over the world. A man was beaten and whipped. A woman was beaten and raped. A boy was hooded with three empty sand bags in 100-degree heat all day, starved, beaten, and kept in stress positions. Alleged suicide victims had their hands tied behind their backs, had boot prints on their heads, or turned out to have been electrocuted. There are torture victims covered with cigarette burns, and torture victims with no visible injuries. They need the expert assistance of doctors and lawyers to heal, to win asylum, and to create any sort of accountability in courts of law.

I’ve participated in countless nonviolent protests of torture, including congressional lobbying, panels and seminars, online petition writing, bird-dogging of politicians and judges and professors. I’ve met victims and told their stories and reviewed their books. But I had never spent a day with a crowd of lawyers and doctors who deal with the medical and court struggles arising out of torture cases, not until I attended a conference in February at American University in Washington, DC, entitled “Forensic Evidence in the Fight Against Torture.”

The doctors, lawyers, and others attending and speaking at the conference were from the United States and many other countries. It was not lost on them that they were addressing something different from a “natural” disaster. In their public comments and private discussions I found universal agreement that torture has gained dramatically greater, world-wide public acceptance during the past decade, and that the United States has been the leader in promoting that greater acceptance. While Juan Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, pointed his finger at Hollywood movies and TV shows in which harsh interrogation techniques succeed in aiding crime solvers, several experts independently told me that by granting legal immunity to torturers, the United States has led by example.

It may be hard to recall that a mere decade ago torture was almost universally condemned here, and had been almost universally condemned in the Western world for centuries (racist exceptions for slavery excluded). By 2004, 43 percent of U.S. respondents to a Pew Research Center survey were saying that torture was often or sometimes justified to gain key information. By 2009, 49 percent said so. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that public support for torture increased in the United States from 27 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2010. AP-GfK polling found U.S. public support for torture at 38 percent in 2005, increasing to 52 percent by 2009.

That was the society I left behind as I entered the conference rooms of AU’s Washington College of Law to join an international gathering of professionals who still viewed torture as the evil it had been considered by the authors of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which included an absolute ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Dahr Jamail: BP Oil Disaster Ongoing After Two Years

Dahr Jamail has covered the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico for two years.  He reports on massive environmental and economic damage and on oil continuing to enter these damaged waters.  Jamail is based in Doha, Qatar working as an Online News Producer for Al Jazeera English. His stories have also been published with Inter Press Service, Truthout, The Nation, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the Independent.  He's been awarded the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. His website is http://dahrjamail.net

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 Radio4All 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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A related article.

Another.

Come to Montgomery County Maryland's Annual Spring Peace Banquet

Saturday, May 19, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville
100 Welsh Park Dr.
Rockville, MD 20850

Join us as we celebrate the local peace community’s work over the past
year at a delicious luncheon catered by Lebanese Taverna.  Vegetarian
options available. Suggested donation: $25.

Program features:

  • Keynote speaker, David Swanson, author, activist and truth teller
  • Presentation of annual Peace Awards to local activists
  • Appearance by members of the awesome MoCo Peace Players

Proceeds benefit the Afghan Women's Fund, providing literacy, medical, and other services for women and girls in Afghanistan, and Peace Action, the nation’s oldest peace organization.

RSVP required: info@peaceactionmc.org

Sponsors: Peace Action Montgomery, Pax Christi, and the UUCR Social Justice Committee.

Find this event on Peace Action Montgomery's site.

Click image at right for flyer (PDF):

Daddy, Where Do Taxes Come From?

I'll tell you when you get a little older.

But I want to know.

Well, I'll tell you where taxes come from in other countries, OK? They come from the idea that if we all pool our resources we can better acquire things like schools, hospitals, parks, trains, you know, things that belong to everybody.

But what about our country?

Well, in our country we pay for private schools if we want good schools, and we all buy something called health insurance to take care of us if we get sick, and a teeny bit of our taxes goes to parks and trains, but we don't have very many of those, and we pay for some of them with local taxes. We pay local taxes, state taxes, and national taxes, and lots of other fees. We pay as much in taxes as people in those other countries, but our taxes are different. They come from a different place, and we'll talk about it when you're a little bit bigger.

Why? Why can't I know now?

Talk Nation Radio: John Horgan on the End of War

John Horgan discusses his new book "The End of War," and the scientific evidence that war can be ended. Horgan is a science journalist and Director of the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. A former senior writer at Scientific American (1986-1997), he has also written for The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Discover, The London Times, The Times Literary Supplement, New Scientist, and other publications around the world. He writes regular columns for Scientific American online, the Chronicle of Higher Education and BBC Knowledge Magazine and does video chats for Bloggingheads.tv. 

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 Radio4All 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_20120411.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>

Liberals Cry Out: Tax the Rich! Fund More Wars!

The shout of the Occupy movement, at least in D.C., has been "End the Wars, Tax the Rich!" in that order and in combination.  Over half of federal discretionary spending goes to the war machine.  We ought to fix that problem first, and then fix the problem that our overlords aren't actually paying their fair share of the taxes.  My friend Leah Bolger is about to face a possible sentence of months in prison for having taken this message to the Super Committee.  Remember them?

As We Ruin Our Kids' Planet, They Take Us to Court

Here in the land of the free lunch and the home of the instant gratification, most people make a huge deal out of children's rights or fetuses' rights, or occasionally both.  Which is extremely bizarre -- crazier perhaps than bombing houses in Afghanistan to protect the rights of the women inside them.  Because we're engaged in the deliberate and knowing process of slowly and irreversibly rendering the whole damn planet uninhabitable.  If not our children, then their children will be forced to live in a desert or move to the North Pole if we don't quickly change our ways -- and possibly even if we do.  And if we don't change our ways, the approach we take to the coming crisis will make fascism look like summer camp. 

Heard the One About the Peace Activist on the Titanic?

As we mark the 100-year anniversary of the unsinkable Titanic sinking, we should recall both the good and bad of that long-forgotten world of 1912.  Were an unbelievably expensive means of luxury travel between the United States and Europe invented today, there would be no reason to expect peace activists to be found among the passengers.  But it is not at all surprising that among the first-class passengers on the world's largest ship in 1912 was a well-known advocate of peace.  This is what Wikipedia has to say about him:

"William Thomas Stead (5 July 1849 – 15 April 1912) was an English journalist and editor who, as one of the early pioneers of investigative journalism, became one of the most controversial figures of the Victorian era. . . .

Talk Nation Radio: Rocky Anderson on His Campaign for President

Rocky Anderson is the Justice Party candidate for U.S. president.  He explains why he's running and what he thinks we need to do to get our country headed in a more just and peaceful direction.  Rocky's website is VoteRocky.org.

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 Radio4All 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_20120404b.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>

Catching Rachel Maddow's Drift

People who know better gave Rachel Maddow's new book unqualified praise in blurbs on the dust jacket. Maybe they see more good than bad in the book, which is called "Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power."  That's a fair assessment.  I'd love for a hundred million Americans or so who never read books to read this one.  It wouldn't be the first book I'd pick, but it would probably do a lot more good than harm. 

New York City Tuesday Night: David Swanson, John Horgan, Jackson Lears, Mark Crispin Miller: Peace in Age of Empire

News from Underground: "Imagining Peace in an Age of Empire"

WHEN: Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 7:00 p.m. 
 
WHERE: McNally Jackson Bookstore, 52 Prince St, New York, N.Y. 10012-3309

Free and Open to Public and Media
 

David Swanson (When the World Outlawed War), John Horgan (The End of War), and Jackson Lears (Rebirth of a Nation) will talk about war and the need to stop it. The conversation will be moderated by Mark Crispin Miller.

Miller, a professor at NYU and author of many books on politics and cultural history, hosts News from Underground, a monthly series at McNally Jackson. In these tense times, there are many topics of extreme importance that the corporate media tends to ignore or misreport; the panel discussions of News from Underground are here to deal honestly with these forbidden issues.

The Statues in Our Public Spaces Lie

There are lies of omission as well as commission, and the statues in Charlottesville, Va. -- typical of other towns -- do both.  We have statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, a generic Confederate soldier, George Rogers Clark, Lewis and Clark (with Sacagawea kneeling like their dog), and on City Hall a triptych with Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.  We have a monument to the War on Vietnam.  And that's it.

Here are some things not memorialized in any major statue or monument in Charlottesville: Queen Charlotte, for whom the town is named; any individual or generic native member of the people who lived here before the Europeans; any individual or generic settler or farmer or merchant or slave.  There is no commemoration of the genocide of the native races or the enslavement of Africans.  There is no individual or generic recognition of those who struggled against and ended slavery, those who advanced human rights following the Civil War, or those who took great risks to end Jim Crow.  There is no individual or generic recognition of those who struggled for labor rights, children's rights, women's suffrage, environmental protection, educational advancements, or peace.  There is no recognition of police officers, firefighters, or of those who have pioneered the nonviolent tools that during the past century have proved so much more useful than wars in changing the world for the better.  Charlottesville is a university town that has been home to brilliant and influential educators, authors, artists, scientists, and athletes.  They are not recognized individually or generically.  There is no park and statue for Edgar Allen Poe or William Faulkner.  Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Dave Matthews Band and many others have made music that enriched a lot of lives, but none of them apparently have ended enough lives through violence to get themselves so much as a little plaque.  Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Jessica Lange and many other wonderful performers have either lived too recently or failed to slaughter enough Indians.

PHOTO: Occupy at Lee Park, Source

The dominant thrust of the statues in our public spaces suggests that the core of our history can be condensed into a five-year period of war a century and a half ago.  Our public spaces tell us that the only thing worthy of commemoration since that horrific episode was the senseless slaughter of millions of Vietnamese.  The history books in our schools play the same game as our public statues, jumping from war to war, as if nothing useful or interesting happened in between.  We glorify a war because it ended slavery, even though most nations ended slavery without wars.  And then we celebrate only the side of the war that was defending slavery.  We prop up heroes who were not from Charlottesville because of their connection to that war.  We ignore the fact that many people from Charlottesville have done the world more good than Robert E. Lee did, and that in many cases they have done so with courage to be surpassed by no one.  It is not easy to face angry racists nonviolently.  It takes courage, determination, and discipline.  It builds solidarity, character, and public spirit.  It carries with it everything positive about war, without the negative.

Charlottesville City Council Member Kristin Szakos recently raised the possibility of adding or removing some public statues in our town.  Here are some of the resulting comments from a local television news website.  Despite such websites filtering out the ugliest comments, see if you can detect an unpleasant theme or two:

"Yes, it is time to replace these racist Confederate statues with statues of Jesse and Al, Farrakhan, Reverend Wright, and of course, The Chosen One, the Omnipotent, the Apologizer-in-Chief Himself; Barack Hussein-as-salaam-alaikum Obama; mmm, mmm, mmmm!"

"Szakos, it's something called part of this area's history. You want to replace it with a statue of Farrakhan? About 620,000 people died in the War between the States. Almost all of them were white."

"while we're at it lets have a discussion about tearing down monticello and replacing it with a statue of TJ and Sally making love to each other under a rainbow, then we can dig up all the confederate tombstones in the area and replace them with statues of city council members, wasting so much money in the process that they will have to assess your property at five times it's actual value to pay for it all."

"more tax money to tear it down!! maybe barrack hussein can send some 'relief money' our way to help us get a newer, more friendly statue. Hey, maybe we can just get a large stone constitution!!!"

"Lets remove all statues related to Thomas Jefferson and replace them with statues of George Jefferson. Then we can have a sing along to 'Movin On Up'."

"Maybe blacks and whites alike figured out slavery was more economically viable than Obamanomics and it's welfare state?"

"Replace the statues with figures of people that have been arrested over 50 times, live in public housing, pay no taxes and serve as a reminder of what Charlottesville now wants to put on a pedestal."

"I guess they can put up a monument for Ralph Sampson or Arthur Ashe to appease everyone."

"Those vermin must be booted out of the USA. Kikc 'em to Hungary The thing is - Hungary doesn't want that sort of vermin either. The Hungarians sre slowly but surely removing the fangs of the Nation Wrecking International Bankster Vampiyres - and I mean J E W S - out of their National throats. "The Federal Reserve" is a Rothschilds J E W fiat debt counterfierting scam. The Hungarians are removing them - so they won't want this vermin either. FYI Co mu nism is STRAIGHT outta the Talmud."

It may surprise you to know that Szakos is white, and that she made no mention of Farrakhan or any of the rest of this nonsense.  One commenter on that site actually said they'd planned to speak against Szakos' proposal but had changed their mind after seeing so much bigotry from other commenters.  Another comment, I think, hit the nail on the head, albeit unintentionally:

"Denial of this community's ancestors does not -- and will never -- cause them to simply disappear."

Really?  Most decades, most movements, most ethnic groups, most areas of intellectual endeavor, the work it took to bring about almost every social advancement: these have simply disappeared from our conceptions of our local history.  Nothing causes information to disappear like refusing to talk about it. 

The local newspaper, the Daily Progress, ran this article and this editorial on the topic.  The editorial defends the propriety of discussing the possibilities, defends the idea of adding more statues, but insists that the existing Confederate statues remain.  And on the topic of adding more statues, the editorialists wonder:

"Is there a modern philanthropist out there who would balance Mr. McIntire's commemorations of the Confederacy? Who will step up?"

Mr. McIntire is the rich guy who created some of the existing statues and parks (one of them on condition that it include a school for white children).  That we rely on the super-wealthy to determine what we memorialize from our past ought to cause even those who believe we're treating the past correctly to stop and question that assumption. 

If we were not nationally dumping over a trillion dollars a year into war-making, we could build new parks and statues with public money and public decision-making.  But nothing keeps the war dollars flowing like the war-glorification in our public spaces.  President Kennedy said that until the conscientious objector receives the respect and prestige of the soldier war will go on.  But even if we defunded it a teeny bit, we could use a teeny bit of the savings to honor those we most appreciate from Charlottesville and beyond.  In my ideal fantasy, we would begin the process of choosing individuals or movements to honor by reading the late historian Howard Zinn, and in the end we would be wise enough to include a little statue of him somewhere, not god-like super-sized on a horse, but life-like, the same size as the rest of us, the same size as our young people who must understand their own potential for greatness.

Why We Should Outgrow "Diversity of Tactics" Before Protesting NATO

The Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda  has nothing on its website about using nonviolence, supporting nonviolence, or opposing violence.

The G8 and NATO Protest also has nothing like that, but does have this:

"As we plan our actions and tactics, we will take care to maintain appropriate separations of time and space between divergent tactics."

A month ago I blogged that I would not endorse Occupy the RNC or DNC because both groups were refusing to state that they opposed violence.

Occupy the RNC has now put this on its website:

"We are not organizing actions, especially violent ones. That would just be stupid. We exist to provide information and facilitate logistics for people resisting the RNC."

Not how I would have put it.  Nor would I have added:

"Don't fuck with us. We'll sue you."

But foreswearing violence and calling it stupid is enough for me.  I wish Occupy DNC could bring itself to do as much.  Better yet, just add "We oppose violence and will not use it."

That would be ideal, smart, strategic, and beneficial to the movement.

When the cops start a riot in Chicago on May 20th, raise your hand if you think CNN will base its coverage on your Youtube of what really happened and ignore that statement above about "space between divergent tactics."

Back in November, some good activists working with Occupy Wall Street wrote:

"‘Diversity of tactics’ becomes an easy way to avoid wrestling with questions of strategy and accountability. It lets us off the hook from doing the hard work of debating our positions and coming to agreements about how we want to act together. It becomes a code for ‘anything goes,’ and makes it impossible for our movements to hold anyone accountable for their actions."

In other words, it's not consensus.  It's minority rule.  Most of us favor an openly nonviolent movement, publicly commited to nonviolence.  When I question organizers of these protests, they practically scream that that is indeed what they favor, but that they want to be inclusive and not allow the 1% to divide us.  Is destroying us better than dividing us?  Is scaring away the majority of the 99% a price worth paying to be inclusive of 10 people who want to smash windows and 2 guys who want to smash police officers?  What about the openness lost by embracing tactics that require secrecy?

"The Occupy movement includes people from a broad diversity of backgrounds, life experiences and political philosophies. Some of us want to reform the system and some of us want to tear it down and replace it with something better. Our one great point of agreement is our call for transparency and accountability. We stand against the corrupt institutions that broker power behind closed doors. We call to account the financial manipulators that have bilked billions out of the poor and the middle classes.

"Just as we call for accountability and transparency, we ourselves must be accountable and transparent. Some tactics are incompatible with those goals, even if in other situations they might be useful, honorable or appropriate. We can’t be transparent behind masks. We can’t be accountable for actions we run away from. We can’t maintain the security culture necessary for planning and carrying out attacks on property and also maintain the openness that can continue to invite in a true diversity of new people. We can’t make alliances with groups from impacted communities, such as immigrants, if we can’t make agreements about what tactics we will employ in any given action.

"The framework that might best serve the Occupy movement is one of strategic nonviolent direct action. Within that framework, Occupy groups would make clear agreements about which tactics to use for a given action. This frame is strategic—it makes no moral judgments about whether or not violence is ever appropriate, it does not demand we commit ourselves to a lifetime of Gandhian pacifism, but it says, ‘This is how we agree to act together at this time.’ It is active, not passive. It seeks to create a dilemma for the opposition, and to dramatize the difference between our values and theirs.

"Strategic nonviolent direct action has powerful advantages:

"We make agreements about what types of action we will take, and hold one another accountable for keeping them. Making agreements is empowering. If I know what to expect in an action, I can make a choice about whether or not to participate. While we can never know nor control how the police will react, we can make choices about what types of action we stand behind personally and are willing to answer for. We don’t place unwilling people in the position of being held responsible for acts they did not commit and do not support.

"In the process of coming to agreements, we listen to each other’s differing viewpoints. We don’t avoid disagreements within our group, but learn to debate freely, passionately, and respectfully.

"We organize openly, without fear, because we stand behind our actions. We may break laws in service to the higher laws of conscience. We don’t seek punishment nor admit the right of the system to punish us, but we face the potential consequences for our actions with courage and pride.

"Because we organize openly, we can invite new people into our movement and it can continue to grow. As soon as we institute a security culture in the midst of a mass movement, the movement begins to close in upon itself and to shrink.

"Holding to a framework of nonviolent direct action does not make us ‘safe.’ We can’t control what the police do and they need no direct provocation to attack us. But it does let us make clear decisions about what kinds of actions we put ourselves at risk for.

"Nonviolent direct action creates dilemmas for the opposition, and clearly dramatizes the difference between the corrupt values of the system and the values we stand for. Their institutions enshrine greed while we give away food, offer shelter, treat each person with generosity. They silence dissent while we value every voice. They employ violence to maintain their system while we counter it with the sheer courage of our presence.

"Lack of agreements privileges the young over the old, the loud voices over the soft, the fast over the slow, the able-bodied over those with disabilities, the citizen over the immigrant, white folks over people of color, those who can do damage and flee the scene over those who are left to face the consequences.

"Lack of agreements and lack of accountability leaves us wide open to provocateurs and agents. Not everyone who wears a mask or breaks a window is a provocateur. Many people clearly believe that property damage is a strong way to challenge the system. And masks have an honorable history from the anti-fascist movement in Germany and the Zapatista movement in Mexico, who said “We wear our masks to be seen.”

"But a mask and a lack of clear expectations create a perfect opening for those who do not have the best interests of the movement at heart, for agents and provocateurs who can never be held to account. As well, the fear of provocateurs itself sows suspicion and undercuts our ability to openly organize and grow.

"A framework of strategic nonviolent direct action makes it easy to reject provocation. We know what we’ve agreed to—and anyone urging other courses of action can be reminded of those agreements or rejected.

"We hold one another accountable not by force or control, ours or the systems, but by the power of our united opinion and our willingness to stand behind, speak for, and act to defend our agreements.

"A framework of strategic nonviolent direct action agreements allows us to continue to invite in new people, and to let them make clear choices about what kinds of tactics and actions they are asked to support.

"There’s plenty of room in this struggle for a diversity of movements and a diversity of organizing and actions. Some may choose strict Gandhian nonviolence, others may choose fight-back resistance. But for the Occupy movement, strategic nonviolent direct action is a framework that will allow us to grow in diversity and power."

Between now and May 20th in Chicago would be an ideal time to spread understanding of this.

Talk Nation Radio: When a War Veteran Tortures His Daughter, and She Survives

Michelle Brown survived a childhood of ongoing abuse and torture at the hands of her father.  She is the author of "This Girl's Life: Being the Child of a War Veteran." Brown discusses her experience, her understanding of what caused it, and her advice to others.

The image at right from the book's cover shows the author with her husband.

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 Radio4All 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:

<iframe src="http://archive.org/embed/TalkNationRadioWhenAWarVeteranTorturesHisDaughterAndSheSurvives" frameborder="0" height="40" width="500"></iframe>

The Drone

Listen.

Listen.

Listen to the endless steady droning

To the buzzing almost moaning

Of the invisible unmanned plane,

The imminent howling pain,

Or is it death?

Or will that omnipotent thing refrain?

Will the humans who make it kill

Change their minds and make it stop?

     It buzzes still!

It's the sound of murder unseen,

The sound of the dying of the American dream,

The relentless sound of streets unclean

Full of homeless people and limousines.

It is the sound of the war machine.

It is the sound of an empire drowning.

The Shifting Strategies of Empire

Remarks at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) Conference:

President Obama this week declared the war on Iraq to be an honorable success that has given us a brighter future. Are you fired up? Ready to go?

Eric Holder this month explained that it's legal for a president to kill anyone anywhere, or to imprison them, or to spy on them. I started to get upset about this, but then I remembered that Holder is a Democrat. That made me feel much better.

Governor of Maine Sticks Out Tongue at Constituents - Guess Why

Governor of Maine Sticks Out Tongue at Constituents

Gov. Paul LePage of Maine sticks out his tongue at his constituents.

Photo credit: Peter Woodruff

Here's why:

Why I'm Now Endorsing Occupy the RNC

Three weeks ago I blogged that I would not endorse Occupy the RNC or DNC because both groups were refusing to state that they opposed violence.

Occupy the RNC has now put this on its website:

"We are not organizing actions, especially violent ones. That would just be stupid. We exist to provide information and facilitate logistics for people resisting the RNC."

Not how I would have put it.  Nor would I have added:

"Don't fuck with us. We'll sue you."

But foreswearing violence and calling it stupid is enough for me.  I wish Occupy DNC could bring itself to do as much.  Better yet, just add "We oppose violence and will not use it."

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