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Hurricane Donald and the Storms of Changing Climate

John Feffer argued on Wednesday that Demagogue Donald, whose very existence will lead me to pretend I'm not from the U.S. the next time I'm in Europe, is part of a wider trend that's already hit Europe hard:

"The ugliness has been percolating in Europe for some time now. It wasn’t just Brexit, Britain’s unexpected rejection of the European Union. It was the election of militant populists throughout Eastern Europe — Viktor Orban in Hungary, Robert Fico in Slovakia, the party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland. It was the electoral surge of the National Front in France and the Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany. It was the backlash against immigrants, social welfare programs, and 'lazy Mediterraneans' — but also against bankers and Brussels bureaucrats."

Now We Can Finally Get to Work

Dear Democrats,

Are you finding yourselves suddenly a bit doubtful of the wisdom of drone wars? Presidential wars without Congress? Massive investment in new, smaller, "more usable" nuclear weapons? The expansion of bases across Africa and Asia? Are you disturbed by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen? Can total surveillance and the persecution of whistleblowers hit a point where they've gone too far? Is the new Cold War with Russia looking less than ideal now? How about the militarization of U.S. police: is it time to consider alternatives to that?

I hear you. I'm with you. Let's build a movement together to end the madness of constantly overthrowing governments with bombs. Let's propose nonviolent alternatives to a culture gone mad with war. Let's end the mindset that creates war in the first place.

We have opportunities as well as dangers. A President Trump is unpredictable. He wants to proliferate nuclear weapons, bomb people, kill people, stir up hatred of people, and increase yet further military spending. But he also said the new Cold War was a bad idea. He said he wanted to end NATO, not to mention NAFTA, as well as breaking the habit of overthrowing countries left and right. Trump seems to immediately back off such positions under the slightest pressure. Will he adhere to them under massive pressure from across the political spectrum? It's worth a try.

We have an opportunity to build a movement that includes a focus on and participation from refugees/immigrants. We have a chance to create opposition to racist wars and racism at home. We may just discover that what's left of the U.S. labor movement is suddenly more open to opposing wars. Environmental groups may find a willingness to oppose the world's top destroyer of the environment: the U.S. military. Civil liberties groups may at long last be willing to take on the militarism that creates the atrocities they oppose. We have to work for such a broader movement. We have to build on the trend of protesting the national anthem and make it a trend of actively resisting the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.

I know you're feeling a little beat down at the moment. You shouldn't. You had a winning candidate in Bernie Sanders. Your party cheated him out of the nomination. All that stuff you tell yourselves about encouraging demographic trends and the better positions of young people is all true. You just looked for love in all the wrong places. Running an unpopular candidate in a broken election system is not the way to change the world. Even a working election system would not be the central means by which to improve anything. There's no getting back the mountains of money and energy invested in this election. But activism is an unlimited resource. Directing your energies now in more strategic directions can inspire others who in turn can re-inspire you.

 

Dear Republicans,

Your outsider is threatening insiderness. He's got the same tribe of DC corporate lobbyists planning his nominations that Hillary Clinton had lined up for hers. Can we resist that trend? Can we insist that the wars be ended? Can those moments of off-the-cuff honesty about dinosaurs like NATO be turned into actual action? Donald Trump took a lot of heat for proposing to be fair to Palestinians as well as Israelis, and he backed off fast. Can we encourage him to stand behind that initial inclination?

Can we stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and end NAFTA as well? We heard a million speeches about how bad NAFTA is. How about actually ending it? Can we stop the looming war supplemental spending bill? Can we put a swift halt to efforts in Congress to repeal the right to sue Saudi Arabia and other nations for their wars and lesser acts of terrorism?

How about all that well deserved disgust with the corporate media? Can we actually break up that cartel and allow opportunities for media entrepreneurs?

 

Dear United States,

Donald Trump admitted we had a broken election system and for a while pretended that he would operate outside of it by funding his own campaign. It's time to actually fix it. It's time to end the system of legalized bribery, fund elections, make registration automatic, make election day a holiday, end gerrymandering, eliminate the electoral college, create the right to vote, create the public hand-counting of paper ballots at every polling place, and create ranked choice voting as Maine just did.

Voter suppression efforts in this year's elections should be prosecuted in each state. And any indications of fraud in vote counting by machines should be investigated. We should take the opportunity created by all the McCarthyist nonsense allegations of Russian interference to get rid of unverifiable voting.

There are also areas in which localities and states, as well as international organizations and alliances, must now step up to take the lead. First and foremost is investing in a serious effort to avoid climate catastrophe. Second is addressing inequality that has surpassed the Middle Ages: both taxing the overclass and upholding the underclass must be pursued creatively. Mass incarceration and militarized police are problems that states can solve.

But we can advance a positive agenda across the board by understanding this election in the way that much of the world will understand it: as a vote against endless war. Let's end the wars, end the weapons dealing, close the bases, and cut the $1 trillion a year going into the military. Hell, why not demand that a businessman president for the first time ever audit the Pentagon and find out what it's spending money on?

 

Dear World,

We apologize for having elected President Trump as well as for nearly electing President Clinton. Many of you believe we defeated the representative of the enlightenment in favor of the sexist racist buffoon. This may be a good thing. Or at least it may be preferable to your eight-year-long delusion that President Obama was a man of peace and justice.

I hate to break it to you, but the United States government has been intent on dominating the rest of you since the day it was formed. If electing an obnoxious president helps you understand that, so much the better. Stop joining in U.S. "humanitarian wars" please. They never were humanitarian, and if you can recognize that now, so much the better. The new guy openly wants to "steal their oil." So did the last several presidents, although none of them said so. Are we awake now?

Shut down the U.S. bases in your country. They represent your subservience to Donald Trump. Close them.

Want to save the earth's climate? Build a nonviolent movement that resists destructive agendas coming out of the United States.

Want to uphold the rule of law, diplomacy, aid, decency, and humanitarianism? Stop making exceptions for U.S. crimes. Tell the International Criminal Court to indict a non-African. Prosecute the crime and crimes of war in your own courts. Stop cooperating in the surrounding and threatening of Russia, China, and Iran. Clinton wanted to send weapons to Ukraine and bomb Syria. Make sure Trump doesn't. Make peace in Ukraine and Syria before January.

It's time that we all began treating the institution of war as the unacceptable vestige of barbarism that it can appear when given an openly racist, sexist, bigoted face. We have the ability to use nonviolent tools to direct the world where we want it to go. We have to stop believing the two big lies: that we are generally powerless, and that our only power lies in elections. Let's finally get active. Let's start by ending war making.

Talk Nation Radio: Sonia Kennebeck on the Drone as National Bird

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-sonia-kennebeck-on-the-drone-as-national-bird

Sonia Kennebeck is director and producwer of National Bird, an amazing new documentary about drones. Kennebeck is an independent documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist with more than 15 years of directing and producing experience. She has directed eight television documentaries and more than 50 investigative reports. She lives in New York where she runs her own production company (Ten Forward Films) that makes films about international politics and human rights. Filmmaker Magazine recently selected her as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2016.” Sonia Kennebeck received a Master’s degree in International Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. and was born in Malacca, Malaysia. National Bird is her first feature-length documentary film.

Learn more: http://nationalbirdfilm.com

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Post-Election To-Do List

1. Stop the efforts to ram through the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the lame duck.

2. Stop the efforts to ram through a supplemental war spending bill for assorted future wars during the lame duck.

3. Stop the efforts to repeal the right to sue Saudi Arabia and other nations for their wars and lesser acts of terrorism during the lame duck.

4. Build a nonpartisan movement to effect real change.

5. Ban bribery, fund elections, make registration automatic, make election day a holiday, end gerrymandering, eliminate the electoral college, create the right to vote, create public hand counting of paper ballots at every polling place, create ranked choice voting.

6. End the wars, end the weapons dealing, close the bases, and shift military spending to human and environmental needs.

7. Tax billionaires.

8. End mass incarceration and the death penalty and the militarization of police.

9. Create single-payer healthcare.

10. Support the rule of law, diplomacy, and aid.

11. Invest in serious effort to avoid climate catastrophe.

12. Apologize to the world for having elected President Clinton or Trump.

 

IF TRUMP WON

1. Build a movement that includes all the Democrats eager to get active.

2. Build a movement that includes a focus on rights of refugees / immigrants

3. Build a movement that resists racist violence at home.

4. Demand a swift end to NAFTA and NATO.

5. Oppose all the horrible nominations for high offices.

6. Break up the media cartel.

7. If win came through voter suppression, seek prosecution immediately.

8. If win came through fraudulent counting, launch massive campaign to compel Democrats to admit it and protest it.

 

IF CLINTON WON

1. Build a movement that includes all the Republicans and Libertarians eager to get active.

2. Build a movement that includes a focus on rights of refugees / immigrants

3. Build a movement that resists racist violence directed at nations abroad.

4. Demand serious action on climate change.

5. Oppose all the horrible nominations for high offices.

6. Break up the media cartel.

7. If win came through fraudulent counting, support Trump's noisy denunciation, and if it did not, then reject Trump's noisy denunciation.

 

IF STEIN WON

1. Support the independent media that made this possible.

2. Support all the wonderful nominees for higher office.

3. Help people in other countries turn their disastrous political systems around too.

4. Volunteer for public service.

How Drone Pilots Talk

For the past eight years millions of people have expended billions of words speculating about exactly how the United States kills people with missiles from drones (and missiles from other sources, such as manned aircraft, targeting people identified with drones). There is good reason to believe that for each such attack there exists a video and audio record of what the drone pilots saw and what they and their colleagues said to each other as they decided to launch a missile and as they observed its results.

This is a level of documentation we rarely have with killings by domestic police officers, who are typically filmed by observers with phones, a method of documentation that excludes the leadup and the aftermath.

It's also a level of documentation that is almost entirely denied to the public, meaning that it doesn't actually do us much good. As far as I know we have not seen a single video or heard a single audio recording of a drone murder. The "Collateral Murder" video is a powerful record of a non-drone attack.

With drones, however, we do have one (incomplete) transcript of what was said during the hours leading up and the minutes following one particular attack. This was an attack in Afghanistan in February 2010 that killed zero fighters but numerous innocent civilians. According to survivors, 23 men, women, and children were killed. According to the U.S. military 15 or 16 were killed and 12 wounded. The U.S. military apologized and paid some $4000 to the family of each acknowledged victim.

Judge Disregards Testimony of First Amendment Activists Arrested at Pentagon, Accepts Flawed Observations of Police Officer

From NCNR

WHO:  Activists associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) gathered at the Pentagon on September 26, 2016, following the three–day World Beyond War conference at American University entitled “No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism.” Some of the participants protested the ongoing US wars, the use of armed drones, and the increasing Pentagon budget.  Twenty-one others attempted to deliver a petition listing the above grievances with a request for a meeting with a representative of Secretary of War Ashton Carter. The Pentagon police would not accept the petition or act on the request. Instead these First Amendment activists were arrested and charged with Failure to Obey a Lawful Order.

WHAT: For years, antiwar activists seeking a meeting have been sending their grievances to various branches of the government.  However, government officials rarely respond to the communication or agreed to meet with activists who state, for example, that killer drone strikes violate the law.  So on September 26, a group went to the Pentagon with a petition to seek a meeting.  Some had their cases dismissed, and some paid a citation processing fee.

What Could Unite a Larger Peace Movement? Oh, This!

In a time of division and disagreement, when people who all agree on something important sometimes spend more time bickering with each other than working on their collective cause, is it possible to craft an agenda that brings them together and adds to their numbers?

It turns out, somewhat to my surprise, the answer is yes.

I discovered this by creating a petition that has very quickly been endorsed by RootsAction, the Future of Freedom Foundation, World Beyond War, the Libertarian Institute, DailyKos, Black Vietnam Veterans of Atlanta, Progressive Democrats of America, Veterans For Peace Chicago Chapter, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Code Pink, Massachusetts Peace Action, Maryland United for Peace & Justice, Upstate Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Pax Christi Seed Planters, The War and Law League, Environmentalists Against War, the PDA Reno Chapter, Voters Occupy, Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition, Vietnam Echos, Spokane Veterans for Peace, Benedictines for Peace of Erie PA, Tyneside East Timor Solidarity, Palouse Peace Coalition, Helfenstein Soup Council, Timothy Dawkins El Project, Green Party of Collin County, Brian Boortz Public Relations, A Green Road, We The People for Democracy, Peaceworkers of San Francisco CA, Green Party of Spokane County, Montrose Peace Vigil, Ecumenical Peace Institute, Pax Christi Southern California, Veteran for Peace 72, Peaceful Skies, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, The Clueit Foundation, Office of the Americas, Veterans For Peace of Western Pennsylvania, Presentation Sisters Justice Commission, Women Against War, Farmington Maine Friends Meeting, Secular Student Alliance at LaGuardia Community College, Faith & Social Justice Alliance Dayton Ohio, The Oracle Institute & Peace Pentagon HUB, Peace Action Maine, Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Northeast Philly for Peace & Justice, Citizens International, National Department of Peacebuilding Committee through the Peace, White Rabbit Grove RDNA, North American Climate Conservation and Environment, The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Colonie des Pionniers de Developpement, Malu 'Aina Center for Nonviolent Education & Action, the Carpe Diem Voice, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Corvallis, Mindfulness in Education, Brandywine Peace Community, Article V Convention for Our Children's Future, and the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution.

Yes, some of those groups I've never heard of. A few of them may consist of three guys with misspelled signs who've been standing on a lonely street corner so long their town has planted bushes around them. But that's sort of the point. A unifying effort should revive old organizations and give birth to new ones. It should also be uncomfortably large, bringing together people who want completely different policies on other issues but agree on this one.

So, what is it that the above organizations and 17,241 individuals thus far agree on? This:

Tell the next president: No more war!

Please sign this petition to the 45th President of the United States:

We call on you to end perpetual war by the United States Government. As signers of this petition, we commit ourselves to building nonviolent pressure to end continual U.S. warfare. We also reject our country's bloated military spending and massive arms sales that make the USA the world’s leading arms trafficker by a huge margin.

Sign as individual.

Sign as organization for which you are authorized to sign.

Importantly, this is a statement to whoever becomes U.S. president next year. It might be someone you considered a lesser evil or a wonderful national leader. It might be someone you believed would adopt a peaceful policy without any public pressure required. Or it might be someone you recognized would require a massive movement to restrain them from destroying the earth. It doesn't matter. You believe that representative government requires that people communicate how they want to be represented. You believe that peace is possible and preferable. You are in that strong majority of the U.S. public that believes the wars of the past 15 years have made us less safe, and you want to end them.

Also importantly -- for both better and worse -- this petition avoids the details of any particular war. Once a particular war is mentioned, many people expect a petition to be fairly lengthy, to list all the causes of the war, to mention all the criminals and profiteers on every side of the war, to stipulate exact relative levels of blame for each party involved, and to advocate for particular policies aimed at establishing justice. Yes, some of that will be necessary work. But it is also critical that we confront the problem illustrated by the sheer number of U.S. wars now raging and by the evil industry of weapons dealing that fuels so many sides of so many wars around the world.

If the U.S. and lesser arms dealers can be brought to abandon their deadly trade, if the wars can be ended and resisted, each in its turn, opportunities and resources will open up for positive approaches. But clearly the first two steps are (1) recognizing we have a problem, and (2) ceasing to make it worse. The panicked cries of two years ago to "Do something!" about ISIS (where "something" meant: bomb people) has predictably (and many of us did predict it) made everything worse. And the general public, not just the full-time activists, knows it.

There will be new opportunities to expand this coalition post-election and post-inauguration. But we should not miss the opportunity to spread it and expand it and make it known now as a movement of nonpartisan principled advocacy for peace.

But How Do You Use Nonviolence Against a Nuke?

Some of the most misguided questions ever conceived by the human brain take the form of "But how do you use nonviolence against . . . ?"

For example, fill in the blank with ISIS. How do you use nonviolence against ISIS?

Now you're supposed to picture yourself with a knife at your throat trying to resist it nonviolently. Then you're supposed to burst into a fit of laughter.

But how would you resist that knife violently? A superhuman feat of martial arts seems at least as unlikely to work as speaking.

But actually possible before the knife arrives at your throat at all are such nonviolent actions as: ceasing to arm ISIS allies, ceasing to allow U.S. allies to fund ISIS, ceasing to inspire ISIS recruiting by bombing people and propping up brutal governments, ceasing to destabilize countries by overthrowing governments, negotiating an arms embargo, negotiating a cease fire, providing actual humanitarian aid on an appropriate scale, opening borders to refugees, investing in efforts to halt climate chaos, strengthening the rule of law by example, kick starting a reverse arms race, abolishing weapons of mass destruction, and -- of course -- using all the tools of nonviolence as an individual to create these policies.

Or fill in the blank with Vladimir Putin. Now you're supposed to imagine some mash up of Vladimir coming at you in a wrestling match, Russian jets flying along the border of Russia thousands of miles away from the United States, and a nuclear bomb landing on your roof. Then you're supposed to burst into a fit of patriotic singing.

But how would you resist Vladimir Putin violently? He's not really wrestling you. Attacking Russian planes might provoke an actual attack by the Russian military, and shooting at the nuke as it comes through the ceiling isn't likely to de-activate it. But actually possible steps that would help include: abolishing NATO, negotiating disarmament agreements, ending foreign wars, closing foreign bases, strengthening the rule of law by example, etc.

My favorite, however, is: "But How Do You Use Nonviolence Against a Nuke?" For this one, we don't need to invent or speculate. We can simply reply: Learn the actions of Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed, and go forth and do likewise. There are thousands of other answers as well. You can lobby for the 2017 treaty to ban nuclear weapons. You can push for divestment from nuclear weapons. You can teach history. You can write articles like this one. But a central answer should be: Do something like Walli, Rice, and Boertje-Obed are doing.

The actions of those three are the main focus of a new book by Dan Zak called Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age. The book reviews useful history of the development of the bomb and of resistance to it including the Catholic Worker movement, of nuclear testing and human experimentation, and of recent developments in disarmament, armament, and activism. But the book takes as its starting point the nonviolent plowshares action that Michael, Megan (pronounced MEE-gan), and Greg took part in on July 28, 2012, at the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Their action clearly has already inspired this book, as well as much other reporting, and much other activism -- with, I hope, a lot more to come.  

These three activists made their way through the surrounding woods and a number of fences into the heart of the Y-12 facility undetected. They painted graffiti peace messages, spilled blood, and protested the creation of nuclear weapons. That they were elderly and one of them a nun was the overwhelming focus of the resulting media coverage. That the United States has nuclear facilities being run by utterly incompetent private companies living high off the tax dollar hog but endangering the globe was a secondary but important focus as well. The sensible guard who avoided escalating the situation was scapegoated and fired. Supposedly changes have been made now so that giant piles of bomb-ready uranium are guarded with at least some fraction of the care devoted to harassing you before you board an airplane.

Michael, Megan, and Greg were put on trial for sabotage or what the judge called a "federal crime of terrorism." They were convicted, imprisoned, and released when that verdict was later overturned. They have promised to continue their activism.

Meanwhile, the book they inspired offers a rich history of which we should all be aware.

Did you know that high school girls preparing the infernos for Hiroshima and Nagasaki were told and presumably believed that they were manufacturing ice cream?

Did you know that Oak Ridge employed over 22,000 people when FDR died and Germany surrendered, and that sheer bureaucratic momentum blocked any consideration of halting the creation of a nuclear bomb?

Zak's book includes gems from the Berrigans' and allies' poetry: "We wish also to challenge the lethal lie spun by G.E. through its motto, 'We bring good things to life.' As manufacturers of the Mark 12A re-entry vehicle, G.E. actually prepares to bring good things to death."

Only occasionally does the author's background as a Washington Post reporter (as opposed to a member of the peace movement he writes about) come through. For example, he recounts a moment when "opposition to the Vietnam war was reaching its ugly peak." He repeatedly suggests that Vladimir Putin has single-handedly restarted the Cold War without any contribution from the U.S. government or NATO. He claims that North Korea has been "led by a succession of madmen." And his reporting in six different places on the views of others as to whether the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was actually needed to end the war would have benefitted from the addition of his own voice on the matter (presuming him to know that the bombing was not needed).

Still, this is a wonderful book inspired by even more wonderful activism. We should have more of both.

When Charlottesville Was Nuked

Thirty-seven years ago, the United States Congress commissioned and published a work of fiction, an account of what life in Charlottesville, Virginia, might be like during a nuclear war. It's contained in a longer report called The Effects of Nuclear War which came out in May of 1979. It's widely available online.

I take an interest for 15 pretty solid reasons:

  • I live in Charlottesville.
  • The world still has enough nuclear weapons with which to destroy itself many times over.
  • We pay a lot less attention to preventing such a disaster now than we did 37 years ago.
  • More nations have nukes now and many more are close to having them.
  • We know more now about the numerous nuclear accidents and misunderstandings that have nearly killed us all over the decades.
  • India and Pakistan are actually at war.
  • The United States and Russia are as close to war as they've been in 98 years.
  • The United States is investing in newer and smaller, "more usable" nukes.
  • This Congressional best case scenario for a U.S. city during a nuclear war is deeply disturbing.
  • We now know that even a limited nuclear war would produce a nuclear winter, preventing the production of crops depicted in this tale.
  • It's not so clear to me that Charlottesville would still rank last on a list of targets for nuclear missiles. It is, after all, home to the Army JAG school, the National Ground Intelligence Center, various weapon makers, a heavily militarized university, and the CIA's underground hideout.
  • The United Nations has just set up negotiations for the coming year of a global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and it's worth trying to understand why.
  • If we survive our possession of nuclear knowledge, we still have climate catastrophe to quickly and miraculously evade or prepare for.
  • The Republican candidate for U.S. president.
  • The Democratic candidate for U.S. president.

So, here are a few excerpts that I encourage you to consider:

Of Veterans and Black Mirror Roaches

If you're a fan of the Netflix show Black Mirror, go watch the episode called "Men Against Fire" before reading this. It's the one about war.

In this 60-minute science fiction show, soldiers have been (somehow) programed so that when they look at certain people they see them as freaky monsters with pointed teeth and bizarre faces. These people look frightening and non-human. They are thought of as objects, not as people at all. In reality they are themselves terrified, unarmed, ordinary looking people. And they have a tool with which to protect themselves, a stick with a green light. It doesn't kill or injure. The stick deprograms a soldier so that when he looks at someone he sees them as they really are without the monstrous distortion.

Of course a deprogramed soldier is of no use to the military. In "Men Against Fire" the military offers a deprogramed soldier two choices. He can re-experience on an endless loop a recent reality in which he murdered helpless human beings, but this time experience it while seeing them as human beings instead of as "roaches" (what the military calls the intended victims made to appear monstrous), or he can be reprogramed and get back to the untroubled work of extermination.

While this story is more fiction than science, some reality breaks into the Netflix drama. During World War I, we're told accurately, a commander beat troops with a stick to get them to shoot at enemies. Troops we're also routinely drugged for the same purpose. During World War II, we're told, also on the basis of actual studies, only 15% to 20% of U.S. troops fired at opposing troops. In other words, 80% to 85% of the Greatest Heroes of the Greatest War Ever were actually a drain on the killing campaign, whereas the conscientious objector featured in the new Mel Gibson movie or, for that matter, the guy who stayed home and grew vegetables contributed more to the effort.

Killing and facing killing are extremely difficult. They require the closest human reality to programing. They require conditioning. They require muscle memory. They require thoughtless reflex. The U.S. military had so mastered this programing by the time of the war on Vietnam that as many as 85% of troops actually fired at enemies -- though some of them also fired at their own commanders. The real trouble came when they didn't remember these acts of murder as the extermination of "roaches" but as the reality of what they were. And veterans remembered their acts of murder on an endless loop with no option to be re-programed out of it. And they killed themselves in greater numbers than the Vietnamese had killed them.

The U.S. military has advanced not an inch in the matter of reconciling its killers to what they have done. Here's an account just published of what that means for veterans and those they know and love. You can easily find another such account every day online. The top killer of members of the U.S. military is suicide. The top killer of the people who live in "liberated" nations during their liberations is members of the U.S. military. This is not coincidental. Veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (only a disorder from the perspective of those who'd like to suppress healthy inhibitions), moral injury (what a veteran friend calls "a fancy word for guilt and regret"), and neurocognitive disorder/brain injury. Often the same individual suffers all three of these types of harm, and often they are hard to distinguish from each other or to fully diagnose prior to autopsy. But the one that eats your soul, the one solved only by science fiction, is moral injury.

Of course science fiction only works when it overlaps with nonfiction. U.S. troops conditioned to kick in doors in Iraq or Syria and view every person inside as a non-human threat don't use the term "roaches," preferring "hadjis" or "camel jockeys" or "terrorists" or "combatants" or "military aged males" or "Muslims." Removing the killers physically to a drone piloting booth can create psychic "distance" aided by reference to victims as "bugsplat" and other terms in the same vein as "roaches." But this approach to producing conscience-free killers has been a spectacular failure. Watch the real suffering of the real drone killers in the current movie National Bird. There's no fiction there, but the very same horror of the roach-killing soldier re-experiencing what he's done.

Such failures and shortcomings for the military are never complete failures of course. Many kill, and kill ever more willingly. What becomes of them afterward is not the military's problem. It couldn't possibly care less. So, awareness of what becomes of those who kill won't stop the killing. What we need is the real life equivalent of a little stick with a green light on it, a magic tool for deprograming members of every military on earth, every potential recruit, every investor in weapons dealing, every profiteer, every willing tax payer, every apathetic observer, every heartless politician, every thoughtless propagandist. What can we use?

I think the closest equivalents to the stick with the green light are passports and telephones. Give every American a passport automatically and free. Make the right to travel inviolable, including for felons. Make the duty to travel and to speak multiple languages part of every education. And give every family in every nation on the Pentagon's potential enemies list a phone with a camera and internet access. Ask them to tell us their stories, including the stories of their encounters with the rarest of species: the newly appearing Unarmed American.

Talk Nation Radio: James Marc Leas on Canceling the F-35

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-james-marc-leas-on-canceling-the-f-35

James Marc Leas is a founding member of the Stop the F-35 Coalition in Burlington Vermont. He has published some two dozen articles on the F-35 and F-35 basing. To highlight the F-35 issue statewide, he ran for the office of Vermont Adjutant General, the leader of the Vermont National Guard, in 2013, which is elected by the legislature.

Before becoming a patent attorney James was an engineer at IBM, and he holds over 40 patents for his inventions. While an IBM employee he led a vigorous campaign among employees to end IBM sales to South Africa. He also served as a staff physicist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in its Washington, DC office for a year in the aftermath of the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant. He is a graduate of MIT and completed all but the dissertation toward a PhD in physics from the University of Massachusetts. He is a member of the Vermont Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Lawyers Guild.

Sign the petition to cancel the F-35:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12514

Learn more:
http://stopthef35.com

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

What Keeps the F-35 Alive

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it'd be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn't safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.

Imagine also that this tool fairly frequently explodes, emitting highly toxic chemicals, particles, and fibers unsafe to breathe into the air for miles around. Normally, that'd be a problem. But if this tool is needed for killing lots of people, we'll work with its flaws, won't we?

Now, what if this new gadget was expected to cost at least $1,400,000,000,000 over 50 years? And what if that money had to be taken away from numerous other expenses more beneficial for the economy and the world? What if the $1.4 trillion was drained out of the economy causing a loss of jobs and a radical diminuition of resources for education, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, or humanitarian aid? Wouldn't that be a worry in some cases, I mean in those cases where the ability to kill tons of human beings wasn't at stake?

All Governments Lie, The Movie

Picture, if you will, video footage of vintage (early 2016) Donald Trump buffoonery with the CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves commenting on major media's choice to give Trump vastly more air time than other candidates: "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."

That's the introduction to a powerful critique of the U.S. media. A new film screens in New York and Los Angeles this week called All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone.

The website AllGovernmentsLie.com has screening dates, a list of lies, and a list of good journalists who expose lies. The lists on the website are not identical to the content of the film, but there's a good deal of overlap -- enough to give you a sense of what this project is about.

I'd have made various changes and additions to the film. In particular, I'm tired of all the focus on Iraq 2003. This film touches on war lies since then, but still gives that one particular set of war lies prominence.

Still, this is a film that should be shown in cities, homes, and classrooms across the United States. It includes and is driven by Noam Chomsky's analysis of how the media system is "rigged" without those doing the rigging believing they've done anything at all. It's a survey of skullduggery by corporate media. It's an introduction to numerous journalists far superior to the norm. And it's an introduction to I.F. Stone. It includes footage of a presentation of the annual Izzy Award which goes to journalists acting in Stone's tradition.

Michael Moore Owes Me $4.99

Michael Moore has made some terrific movies in the past, and Where to Invade Next may be the best of them, but I expected Trumpland to be (1) about Trump, (2) funny, (3) honest, (4) at least relatively free of jokes glorifying mass murder. I was wrong on all counts and would like my $4.99 back, Michael.

Moore's new movie is a film of him doing a stand-up comedy show about how wonderfully awesome Hillary Clinton is -- except that he mentions Trump a bit at the beginning and he's dead serious about Clinton being wonderfully awesome.

This film is a text book illustration of why rational arguments for lesser evilist voting do not work. Lesser evilists become self-delusionists. They identify with their lesser evil candidate and delude themselves into adoring the person. Moore is not pushing the "Elect her and then hold her accountable" stuff. He says we have a responsibility to "support her" and "get behind her," and that if after two years -- yes, TWO YEARS -- she hasn't lived up to a platform he's fantasized for her, well then, never fear, because he, Michael Moore, will run a joke presidential campaign against her for the next two years (this from a guy who backed restricting the length of election campaigns in one of his better works).

Disobey or Die

Back in the winter of 1982, Air Florida flight 90 took off from National Airport. The first officer noticed dangerous readings on some instruments and pointed them out to the captain. The captain told him he was wrong, and he accepted the captain's authority. He did nothing. Thirty seconds later the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge. Everyone on board died except for four passengers rescued out of the icy river.

During the latter decades of the 20th and first part of the 21st century, millions and millions of first officers on spaceship earth noticed that climate and nuclear dangers loomed. But every authoritative captain in sight, from elected officials to CEOs to media pundits, said "Don't be a fool. I've got this." And millions upon millions sat back and mumbled "Oh, all right, if you're sure."

The people pushing through the vote this week at the United Nations to create a treaty next year banning nuclear weapons are engaged in necessary disobedience to mainstream authority and acceptance. The people putting their bodies in the way of a pipeline in North Dakota are disobeying immoral orders.

Ira Chaleff's book, Intelligent Disobedience, re-examines the lessons of the Milgram and Stanford prison experiments, and other more recent demonstrations of the severe dangers of uncritical obedience. Chaleff highlights some techniques that can facilitate intelligent refusals to obey.

Public vs. Media on War

A new poll from an unlikely source suggests that the U.S. public and the U.S. media have very little in common when it comes to matters of war and peace.

This poll was commissioned by that notorious leftwing hotbed of peaceniks, the Charles Koch Institute, along with the Center for the National Interest (previously the Nixon Center, and before that the humorously named Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom). The poll was conducted by Survey Sampling International.

They polled 1,000 registered voters from across the U.S. and across the political spectrum but slanted slightly toward older age groups. They asked:

"Over the last 15 years, do you think U.S. foreign policy has made Americans more or less safe?"

The U.S. National Bird Is Now a Drone

Officially, of course, the national bird of the United States is that half-a-peace-sign that Philadelphia sports fans like to hold up at opposing teams. But unofficially, the film National Bird has it right: the national bird is a killer drone.

Finally, finally, finally, somebody allowed me to see this movie. And finally somebody made this movie. There have been several drone movies worth seeing, most of them fictional drama, and one very much worth avoiding (Eye in the Sky). But National Bird is raw truth, not entirely unlike what you might fantasize media news reports would be in a magical world in which media outlets gave a damn about human life.

The first half of National Bird is the stories of three participants in the U.S. military's drone murder program, as told by them. And then, just as you're starting to think you'll have to write that old familiar review that praises how well the stories of the victims among the aggressors were told but asks in exasperation whether any of the victims of the actual missiles have any stories, National Bird expands to include just what is so often missing, and even to combine the two narratives in a powerful way.

Antiwar March on Hillary Clinton's Office

Antiwar demo on Saturday, November 5th, rallying at Brooklyn Boro Hall (209 Joralemon Street) on the steps at 1 pm, and then marching to Hillary Clinton's office:

Organizations Endorsing:

Brooklyn Greens / Green Party

Veterans for Peace-NYC, Chapter 34

Popular Resistance

World Can't Wait

U.S. Peace Council

The Nuclear Resister

Friends of Brad Will

Center for Global Justice

World Beyond War

Free Radicals (freerads.com), Houston TX



Individuals Endorsing:

Steve Ault
, long-time activist

David Barouh, ActionGreens

Medea Benjamin,

Betsy Bowman, Center for Global Justice - Mexico

Howard Brandstein, Director, Sixth Street Community Center, NYC*

Lenni Brenner, author, Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators

Ellen Brown, Attorney & Public Banking advocate

Jack & Felice Cohen-Joppa, Nuclear Resister ( www.nukeresister@igc.org)

Mitchel Cohen, former Chair WBAI radio Local Station Board*

Carolina Cositore Sitrin, Raging Grannies/NJ Green Party*

Curtis Cost, Author and Community Activist

Dawn Real, community-based technologist

Ecegul "AJ" Elterman, member of Public Citizen*

Terri Ginsberg, Assistant Professor of Film, The American University in Cairo

Margaret Flowers, MD, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland

Robert Gold, Brooklyn Greens

Marcy Gordon, attorney, singer-songwriter

Michael Hirsch, New Politics magazine*

Ron Jacobs, writer

Edwin Johnston, Houston TX anti-war activist

Chris Kinder, coordinator of the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Sallie Latch, artist

Patricia Mann, author "On the Precipice", in Radical Philosophy Review*

Alfred R. Marder, President, U.S. Peace Council

Joel Meyers,

Bertell Ollman,
professor & author

Christopher Reed, environmental activist

Jack Shalom, Math Teacher

Alice Slater, World Beyond War*

Bob Stone,

Alice Sturm Sutter,
retired nurse practitioner, NYC Metro Raging Grannies*

David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org

Debra Sweet, World Can't Wait

Daniel Vila, Green Party candidate for Congress, 13th C.D., NYC

Kevin Zeese, co-director of PopularResistance.org

*For ID purposes only

Talk Nation Radio: Timeka Drew on Protecting Voter Rights

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-timeka-drew-on-protecting-voter-rights

Timeka Drew is National Director of the Liberty Tree Foundation, a position she has served in since February of 2016. Previously she served as Liberty Tree's Communications Director and worked as lead organizer of the Global Climate Convergence. Timeka came to the Liberty Tree community via her work with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and local democracy, food sovereignty, and anti-racist organizing in Los Angeles and her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana.                         

For more information, see http://libertytreefoundation.org and http://NoMoreStolenElections.org     

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Slavery Was Abolished

By David Swanson, World Beyond War

I recently debated a pro-war professor on the topic “Is war ever necessary?” (video). I argued for abolishing war. And because people like to see successes before doing something, no matter how indisputably possible that thing is, I gave examples of other institutions that have been abolished in the past. One might include such practices as human sacrifice, polygamy, cannibalism, trial by ordeal, blood feuds, dueling, or the death penalty in a list of human institutions that have been largely abolished in some parts of the earth or which people have at least come to understand could be abolished.

Of course, an important example is slavery. But when I claimed that slavery had been abolished, my debate opponent quickly announced that there are more slaves in the world today than there were before foolish activists imagined they were abolishing slavery. This stunning factoid was meant as a lesson to me: Do not try to improve the world. It cannot be done. In fact, it may be counter-productive.

But let’s examine this claim for the 2 minutes necessary to reject it. Let’s look at it globally and then with the inevitable U.S. focus.

David Swanson: “We need to unite globally around opposition to the entire institution of war”

By Anna Polo, PRESSENZA

This post is also available in: Italian

David Swanson: “We need to unite globally around opposition to the entire institution of war”
(Image by Ragesoss, Wikimedia Commons)

In your website http://worldbeyondwar.org/ you say: “We strive to replace a culture of war with one of peace, in which nonviolent means of conflict resolution take the place of bloodshed”. So which role and value can nonviolence have in building such a culture?

Nonviolent action can play at least three roles here.

  1. It can demonstrate a superior means of resisting tyranny that causes less suffering, is more likely to succeed, and is likely to have a longer lasting success. While most of the examples, such as Tunisia 2011, are of overcoming domestic tyranny, there is a growing list of successful nonviolent resistance actions against foreign invasion and occupation as well — and a growing understanding of how to apply the lessons of domestic nonviolence to resistance to foreign attack.
  1. It can model a world that has outgrown war. Nations can lead by example, by joining international bodies and treaties, abiding by the rule of law and enforcing it. The International Criminal Court could indict a non-African. The United States which has stopped manufacturing cluster bombs could join the ban on them. Truth and reconciliation commissions could be expanded. Disarmament talks, humanitarian aid on a new scale, and the closure of foreign bases could be the change we want to see.
  1. Nonviolent protest and resistance tools can be used by activists to resist bases, weapons manufacture, military recruitment, and new wars. We didn’t stop Dal Molin in Vicenza, but we don’t have to accept it. The U.S. military should not be permitted to use facilities in Sicily to murder with drones in Asia and Africa. A year’s service to one’s country should not involve participating in a military.  Public and private funds must be divested from weapons companies. Et cetera.

Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn't

By David Swanson, originally published by the Fairbanks Alaska Daily Miner

I would not rank Vladimir Putin high on a list of leaders. If I lived in Russia I'd be working for major reforms in my government, just as I'm doing where I do live, in the United States. I regularly go on Russian media and criticize the Russian government. Russia is illegally and immorally bombing people in Syria, just as the United States is doing in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

But there are Putin Halloween masks for sale in U.S. stores. Time magazine has Putin on the cover accusing him of trying to damage U.S. elections. A Google search for "Hitler Putin" brings back 11 million results. This demonization of a foreign leader should frighten us more than that leader himself.

Wars do not only kill, if they kill at all, a foreign leader. But they do kill large numbers of children, grandparents, mothers, and fathers. They enrage people, endanger us, damage the natural environment, justify the removal of our rights, and divert unfathomable resources from areas where they could have done a world of good.

The actual Adolph Hitler had no plans or ability to invade the United States and was defeated primarily by Russians who lost at least 27 million lives in the process. For over 70 years, since the end of World War II, the United States has bombed dozens of nations, and in every case that I am aware of U.S. officials have labeled a targeted individual "Hitler."

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

Politico then cited a less-than-credible "study" of Russian military superiority and aggression and added: "While the reporting about the Army study made headlines in the major media, a large number in the military's influential retired community, including former senior Army officers, rolled their eyes."

The United States has overseen the expansion of NATO to Russia's border. The buffer zone of the last Cold War is gone. U.S./NATO missile bases are now in Romania and being built in Poland. The U.S. has organized in Eastern Europe the largest military exercises seen there since World War II. The U.S. role in supporting a violent coup that created an anti-Russian government in Ukraine was exposed before the coup. When the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia, the U.S. media characterized Russian actions that resulted in total casualties of zero as "an invasion of Ukraine."

Without presenting us with any evidence, the U.S. government has accused Russia of shooting down an airplane, of exposing the corruption within the Democratic National Committee (shouldn't we be grateful?), and of somehow sabotaging the upcoming U.S. election. Every atrocity committed by Russia or Syria in Syria is big news. Every U.S. atrocity there is a yawn.

The stakes are high every time the United States overthrows a government. The disasters of Iraq and Libya have fueled the current catastrophes in those countries and Syria and around the region. But the stakes are higher when the United States and Russia confront each other. These are nuclear nations. Russia has announced that it is considering re-opening a base in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis, in case anyone has forgotten, was one of the many times since the creation of nuclear weapons that humanity has come close to intentionally or accidentally destroying itself.

The nukes are of far greater strength now. And our understanding has grown of how a limited nuclear war anywhere on earth would create a crop-destroying nuclear winter followed by mass starvation. We don't need to take this sort of risk. To avoid it we need to turn away from war. And that means we need to stop using human rights abuses by targeted governments as excuses to bomb people.

We should protect human rights through leadership by example and consistent application of the rule of law. Doing so would then open the United States up to the possibility of opposing human rights abuses by some of the nasty governments that it props up and sells or gives weapons to, beginning perhaps with Saudi Arabia, a monarchy that makes Vladimir Putin look like Mohandas Gandhi.

David Swanson is speaking at the University of Alaska Schaible Auditorium at 7 p.m. on October 22nd. His books include War Is A Lie and War Is Never Just. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Rigged

The 2016 Republican presidential primary was rigged. It wasn't rigged by the Republicans, the Democrats, Russians, space aliens, or voters. It was rigged by the owners of television networks who believed that giving one candidate far more coverage than others was good for their ratings. The CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves said of this decision: "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS." Justifying that choice based on polling gets the chronology backwards, ignores Moonves' actual motivation, and avoids the problem, which is that there ought to be fair coverage for all qualified candidates (and a democratic way to determine who is qualified).

The 2016 Democratic presidential primary was rigged. It wasn't rigged by bankers, misogynists, Russians, Republicans, or computer hackers. It was rigged by the Democratic National Committee and its co-conspirators in the media, many of whom have helpfully confessed (in case it wasn't obvious) in emails leaked from the DNC and from John Podesta. The DNC chose Hillary Clinton and worked hard to make sure that she "won." Nobody has produced a hint of evidence as to who leaked the emails that added unnecessary confirmation of this rigging, but they should be thanked for informing us, whoever they are.

The FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's misuse of email was as rigged as the non-prosecution of the CEO of Wells Fargo. The U.S. political system is bought and paid for. Without millions of dollars to funnel to television networks for advertising, any candidate is rigged right out of participating. This rigging of the system is not fixed by someone like Donald Trump pretending for a while that he won't take bribes, that he'll spend only his own money, because most people don't have that kind of money to spend. This rigging is not fixed by making someone like Hillary Clinton take her bribes through her family foundation or requiring that her political action committees remain theoretically separate from the campaign they are collaborating hand-in-glove with, because money buys power.

The debates are rigged by a private entity with no official status that calls itself the Commission on Presidential Debates and transforms open debates among multiple candidates into exclusively bipartisan joint appearances with many large and fine points negotiated beforehand.

Talk Nation Radio: Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein on why they shut down pipelines

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-emily-johnston-and-annette-klapstein-on-why-they-shut-down-pipelines

Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein face felony charges for having shut down fossil fuel pipelines.

Johnston says:

To be honest, I’d love to be able to lead a quiet life right now—building things, reading and writing all day, taking long walks with my dog, having time for dinners and vacations with my loved ones.

But to live like that at this moment in time would be to shrug off responsibility for the very world I was busy loving; we’re in a crisis of unimaginable proportions, and the fact that we here in the US can (between terrible storms and terrible droughts) live normal daily lives, doesn’t mean that we aren’t.

I’ve said enough about why I’m doing this: it needs to be done. I feel incredibly privileged to be alive in this moment, when so much is still so beautiful, and there’s still a chance to save it. But for years (decades, for some people) we’ve tried the legal, incremental, reasonable methods, and they haven’t been anything like enough; without a radical shift in our relationship to this Earth, all that we love will disappear. My fear of that possibility is far greater than my fear of jail. My love for the beauties of this world is far greater than my love of an easy life.

If others feel the same way, there’s hope for us yet.

 

Klapstein says:

My name is Annette Klapstein. I am a retired attorney and the mother of 2 grown children.  Three words embody my decision to take action: love, solidarity and responsibility. 

It is my job as an older person to step up and put my body on the line to protect my children and all children. Being retired and freed from those obligations, there is nothing more important than insuring a habitable planet for all our children. Our political system has failed to respond to the grave threat of climate change - this is my taking responsibility.

There was a call for International Days of Prayer and Action with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe this week - this is my prayer and this is my action.  My life is only marginally affected by climate change right now, but there are mothers and children around the world in frontline communities - mostly low-income communities of color - who are being drastically affected right now. This is my act of solidarity.

Like mothers everywhere, I act from a deep love for my own children that extends out to all children and young people, and all living beings on this planet.  I have signed hundreds of petitions, testified at dozens of hearings, met with most of my political representatives at every level, to very little avail. I have come to believe that our current economic and political system is a death sentence to life on earth, and that I must do everything in my power to replace these systems with cooperative, just, equitable and love-centered ways of living together. This is my act of love.

For more information, see http://www.shutitdown.today

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Will the Gulf of Tonkin Fit into the Red Sea?

Just a geography question. Or maybe it's a different sort of question.

Do a web search for "USS Mason" and you will find countless "news" reports about how this poor innocent U.S. ship has been fired upon, and fired upon again, and how it has fired back "countermeasures" in self-defense.

But you might stumble onto one article from CNN (don't watch the totally misleading video posted just above the text) that says:

"Officials Saturday night were uncertain about what exactly happened, if there were multiple incoming missiles or if there was a malfunction with the radar detection system on the destroyer."

So, was the poor wittle innocent destroyer fired at or not?

What Hillary Clinton Privately Told Goldman Sachs

At first glance, Hillary Clinton's speeches to Goldman Sachs, which she refused to show us but WikiLeaks claims to have now produced the texts of, reveal less blatant hypocrisy or abuse than do the texts of various emails also recently revealed. But take a closer look.

Clinton has famously said that she believes in maintaining a public position on each issue that differs from her private position. Which did she provide to Goldman Sachs?

Yes, Clinton does profess her loyalty to corporate trade agreements, but at the time of her remarks she hadn't yet started (publicly) claiming otherwise.

I think, in fact, that Clinton maintains numerous positions on various issues, and that those she provided to Goldman Sachs were in part her public stances, in part her confidences to co-conspirators, and in part her partisan Democratic case to a room of Republicans as to why they should donate more to her and less to the GOP. This was not the sort of talk she'd have given to labor union executives or human rights professionals or Bernie Sanders delegates. She has a position for every audience.

In the speech transcripts from June 4, 2013, October 29, 2013, and October 19, 2015, Clinton was apparently paid sufficiently to do something she denies most audiences. That is, she took questions that it appears likely she was not secretly briefed on or engaged in negotiations over ahead of time. In part this appears to be the case because some of the questions were lengthy speeches, and in part because her answers were not all the sort of meaningless platitudes that she produces if given time to prepare.

White Helmets More Gray

"People always think something's all true." —Holden Caulfield

When a wonderful program like Democracy Now does a story on the White Helmets in Syria, the problem is not that the White Helmets don't exist, or that they're not rescuing anyone, or that they're actually filmed in Los Angeles -- all of which is ridiculously untrue.

Or perhaps it's not ridiculous. Syria has been the subject of a tidal wave of faked videos, many of them filmed elsewhere. But those things are untrue.

The problem is that the guest who's on Democracy Now to promote the rescuers repeatedly claims that the war in Syria consists of people being slaughtered by Syria and Russia -- and nothing else. And nobody corrects that. There is no mention of people killed by U.S. bombs or by U.S. weapons given to fighters on the ground.

The problem is that the White Helmets' partners, media allies, and funders promote a one-sided story and, far from working for peace, promote an escalation of the war, demanding a "No Fly Zone" from which to work for the overthrow of the government. In fact, the U.S. government gave the White Helmets $23 million with which to work on "transition" to a different government.

It's good media practice to reveal funders. We protest when retired generals go on CNN to push for war without revealing their financial ties to weapons makers. We should protest when promoters of the White Helmets go on TV without revealing that they're funded by Western governments, including the U.S. government which has been pushing for the overthrow of Syria for years.

Now, when the U.S. government funds something good, we ought to celebrate that. A color revolution in someplace like Serbia that develops creative new techniques and nonviolently overthrows a dictator to create a more democratic country is not wholly evil because the U.S. government supported it. But neither should we blind ourselves to that support or its motivations.

And when those motivations, at the highest levels of the U.S. government, appear disreputable, that of course does not tell us the motivations of all the staff people and volunteers involved. The U.S. government's dishonest demonization of someone like Milosevic doesn't make him a beloved and law-abiding leader. The U.S. facilitation of a coup in Ukraine doesn't mean there weren't Ukrainians with good grievances. The world is just not a simple place.

When it comes to Syria we need to recognize that many people in Syria had and have legitimate grievances against their government, and that the United States and allies have been working for many years now to overthrow the Syrian government, and that U.S. actions in Iraq and Libya and Syria have played a huge role in creating the current disaster, and that Russia and Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Qatar and Iran and ISIS and al Nusra and other "extremist" mass murderers and "moderate" mass murderers and the United States and Syria have Syrian blood up to their shoulders.

We also need to recognize that there are a lot of people trying to help, trying to make things better. And their good work should not be used, with or without their consent, as propaganda for further escalation of the killing and destruction. The way to peace does not lie through greater war. And greater war is the goal of the organized demonization of one side, of the manufacturing of selective outrage. On the contrary, the way to peace lies through taking a different approach entirely, an approach that faces all of the facts and treats as the enemy, not this side of the war or that side of the war, but the institution of war.

ISIS uses U.S. weapons which the U.S. continues supplying to fighters in Syria who are trying to overthrow the government. Meanwhile Russia is backing the government against those fighters. In that context, the U.S. and Russia are proposing to work together while threatening each other. These are nuclear nations. What we need is not slick demonization of one side through appeals to our humanitarian concerns, but disarmament, cease-fire, and actual aid on a much greater scale.

The spokespeople for the White Helmets say they don't work in government controlled areas because the government will not let them. That may be true. And it may be true because of suspicions that are easy to understand. But it is also probably true that if the White Helmets were making movies of themselves rescuing people on that side of the war, much of their funding would dry up.

Remember that the U.S. government tried to make a case for bombing Syria in 2013 by claiming that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons. President Obama claimed to have solid evidence of that, which three years later we still haven't seen. The public prevented that escalation. But a year later, following the release of ISIS videos, the U.S. public put up little resistance to the U.S. entering the war on multiple sides, including the opposite side from what it had advertised for in 2013.

But the U.S. government was stuck with a problem. How to direct the war against Syria when the U.S. public seemed not to be upset about Syria at all but seemed willing to be scared entirely out of its mind about ISIS? For the past two years we've witnessed campaigns aimed at demonizing Assad and Putin. That the White Helmets are saving lives doesn't change the fact that they are part of those campaigns. We need to observe them with open eyes.

There is, after all, a potential for support of the White Helmets to backfire against war mongers. If the general public caught on that nonviolent aid is the decent, effective, noble, and heroic path, perhaps the U.S. government would shift more than a tiny fraction of a percent of its Syria budget to that approach. If actual humanitarian aid and unarmed civilian peacework (and videography) were scaled up and done in an actually neutral manner, war would end -- and the White Helmets would have shown the way.

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