Canada, Do Not Follow U.S. Into Permawar

By David Swanson and Robert Fantina

Oh Canada, to thine own self be true, not to thine heavily militarized neighbor. Robin Williams called you a nice apartment over a meth lab for a reason, and now you're bringing the drugs upstairs.

We write to you as two U.S. citizens, one of whom moved to Canada when George W. Bush became U.S. president. Every wise observer in Texas had warned this country about their Governor Bush, but the message hadn't gotten through.

We need the message to reach you now before you follow the United States down a path it has been on since its creation, a path that used to include regular invasions of your land, a path impeded a little by your generous sanctuary for those refusing war participation, and a path that now invites you to ruin yourself along with us. Misery and addiction and illegality love company, Canada. Alone they wither, but with aiders and abettors they flourish.

At the end of 2013 Gallup polls asked Canadians what nation they'd most like to move to, and zero of the Canadians polled said the United States, while people in the United States picked Canada as their most desired destination. Should the more desirable nation be imitating the less desirable, or the other way around?

In the same poll almost every nation of the 65 surveyed said the United States was the greatest threat to peace in the world. In the United States, bizarrely, people said Iran was the greatest threat -- despite Iran spending less than 1% of what the United States does on militarism. In Canada, Iran and the United States tied for first place. You seem to be of two minds, Canada, one of them thoughtful, the other breathing the fumes of your downstairs neighbor.

At the end of 2014 Gallup asked people if they would fight for their country in a war. In many nations 60% to 70% said no, while 10% to 20% said yes. In Canada 45% said no, but 30% said yes. In the United States 44% said yes and 30% no. Of course they're all lying, thank goodness. The United States always has several wars running, and everyone is free to sign up; almost none of the professed willing fighters do. But as a measure of support for war and approval of war participation, the U.S. numbers tell you where Canada is headed if it follows its southern friends.

A recent poll in Canada indicates that a majority of Canadians support going to war in Iraq and Syria, with support being highest, as might be expected, among Conservatives, with members of the NDP and Liberal parties offering less, but still significant, support. All this may be part of the Islamophobia that is sweeping much of North America and Europe. But, take it from us, the support is soon replaced with regret -- and the wars do not end when the public turns against them. A majority of the U.S. public has believed the 2001 and 2003 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should never have been begun for the majority of those wars' existence. Once begun, however, the wars roll on, in the absence of serious public pressure to halt them.

Recent polling in Canada also indicates that while over 50% of respondents feel uncomfortable with someone wearing a hijab or abaya, over 60% of respondents support their right to wear it. That's stunning and praiseworthy. To accept discomfort out of respect for others is a top qualifying characteristic of a peacemaker, not a warmaker. Follow that inclination, Canada!

The Canadian government, like the U.S. government, uses fear-mongering to implement its war policies. But again, there is cause for some limited optimism. A recently-proposed anti-terror bill, that legal experts have decried as depriving Canada of some basic rights, has received significant opposition, and is being amended. Unlike the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, which sailed through Congress with little if any opposition, Canadian bill C-51 which, among other things, would stifle dissent, has been widely opposed both in Parliament and in the streets.

Build on that resistance to every evil justified by war, Canada. Resist the degradation of morality, the erosion of civil liberties, the drain to the economy, the environmental destruction, the tendency toward oligarchic rule and rogue illegality. Resist, in fact, the root problem, namely war.

It has been several years since the U.S. media regularly showed pictures of flag-draped coffins arriving on U.S. soil from far-flung war zones. And most of the victims of U.S. wars -- those living where the wars are fought -- are shown hardly at all. But Canada's media may do better. You may literally see the evil of your wars. But will you see your way clear to getting out of them? It is far easier to not launch them. It is far easier still to not plan and prepare for them.

We remember the lead you took, Canada, in banning land mines. The United States sells flying land mines called cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, which attacks its neighbors. The United States uses those cluster bombs on its own war victims. Is this the path you want to follow? Do you imagine, like some Las Vegas tiger tamer, that you'll civilize the wars you join? Not to put too fine a point on it, Canada, you will not. Murder will not be civilized. It can, however, be ended -- if you help us.

Department of Education Mandates Teaching of Satire

Buried in a regulation produced under the No Child Left Behind Act by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education is an odd and apparently little-enforced requirement that every public school student in the United States be taught literacy in the art of satire.

When questioned about the matter on Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the regulation with some fervor. "Satire," he said, "is at least as critical to success in a competitive world as poetry and probably more critical than civics."

Pressed to explain the remark, Duncan offered what he called evidence of a dangerous shortfall in satire literacy.

"Let's say someone writes an account, for example, of how Bill O'Reilly lies every day about having had to fight off Iranian intruders who were trying to steal his cornflakes at breakfast. A few people will understand that he doesn't really tell that lie every day, that saying he does is an exaggeration for humorous effect. But those few people all work for Bill O'Reilly and the rest of us know better."

"Now what if you're at a meeting with clients you're trying to impress and one of them uses satire but you miss it? Or you're in a big conference where either your boss is coming up with a genius way to generate income or those Yes Men protesters are making fun of you for your acceptance of slavery and child labor. How are American students going to compete if they can't recognize the difference?"

"Did you know that 18% of U.S. divorces and 2% of U.S. wars can be traced to the failure to recognize satire?

"Well, you would if the free market were given free rein to educate in the manner desired and with the content demanded by the uneducated. Who knows better what education is needed and what it's worth than the people who don't have it yet?

"Now, I recognize the argument that Washington, D.C., has passed the point of being satirizable. My answer to that is, just wait till I show you the letters I receive about these comments." 

Talk Nation Radio: Brian Terrell: Anti-Drone-War-Movement Is Growing

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-brian-terrell-anti-drone-war-movement-is-growing

Brian Terrell discusses a recent major protest of drone murders at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and the state of the anti-drone-war movement. Brian is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and event coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience. He lives on a Catholic Worker farm in Maloy, Iowa. From this farm, Brian travels, speaking and acting with various communities working for peace. Two years ago he was serving a six month prison sentence for protesting drone killing from Whiteman Air force Base in Missouri, and this past month he returned from a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Television Commercial in California Asks Drone Pilots to Stop Killing

This may be a first: a television ad campaign in a U.S. state capitol appealing to someone to stop murdering human beings who have, in most cases, already been born.

A new 15-second television ad, a variation on one that's aired in Las Vegas near Creech Air Force Base, is debuting this week in Sacramento, Calif. Take a look:

The ad was produced by KnowDrones.com, and is cosponsored by Veterans for Peace/Sacramento, and Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento. It is airing on CNN, FoxNews and other networks starting Tuesday in the Sacramento/Yuba City area, near Beale Air Force Base.

Producers and promoters of the ad campaign have planned a press briefing at 8:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday, March 31, at the main gate to Beale Air Force Base. The ad's appeal for pilots to "Refuse to Fly," they say, "is aimed at drone pilots, sensor operators, support personnel and their families as well as the general public."

While killing people with drones by the thousands has become so routine that elite lawyers argue for making "wartime" permanent, and the United States is selling armed drones to nations around the world without apparently the slightest consideration that any undesired consequences are possible, the reality of what is happening is rarely seen in U.S. media. Comcast cable has decided that the advertisement above cannot be shown before 10:00 p.m. because it shows a glimpse of what "targeted drones strikes" do.

Comcast is allowing the version below to air at all hours as it more closely resembles the rest of U.S. television content in hiding reality. It does state "U.S. drones have murdered thousands, including women and children."  "Murder," by the way, is the U.S. government's own terminology, and strictly accurate.

Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, suggested that activists have focused on appealing directly to drone pilots because appealing to the U.S. government has become so hopeless. "The President and the Congress," he said, "refuse to respect law and morality and stop U.S. drone attacks, so we are asking the people who bear the burden of doing the actual killing to put a stop to it."

In fact, drone pilots are suffering post traumatic stress and moral injury in significant numbers, and dropping out in significant numbers. Information on all the factors involved in creating the current, and much desired, shortage of drone pilots is, of course, incomplete. For a discussion of the issue, listen to this week's Talk Nation Radio with guest Brian Terrell.  Efforts are also alive and well to get armed drones banned or to at least stop the U.S. government from arming the world with them.

Below is a nice collection of statements gathered by KnowDrones.com as part of its effort to persuade those who are all too much in the habit of obeying immoral orders:

1. “America’s targeted killing program is illegal, immoral and unwise.”

     -Archbishop Desmond Tutu – From forward to Drones and Targeted Killing  January, 2015

2. “There are two main reasons why drone warfare is neither just nor moral.  First, it replaces interrogation by assassination.  Specific individuals (including American citizens) are placed on ‘kill lists.’  They are targeted with no accountability for errors in judgment or excesses of attack.  All due process is abandoned…Our consciences are stricken by the indefensible loss of life through drone warfare.”

- The Rev. George Hunsinger, Professor of Systemic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary.  January 24, 2015.

3.  “They call themselves warfighters. They are assassins.”

- Former Congressman and member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Rush Holt speaking of drone operators at the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare held at Princeton Theological Seminary, January 23 - 25. 

4.  “We are the ultimate voyeurs, the ultimate Peeping Toms. I’m watching this person, and this person has no clue what’s going on. No one’s going to catch us. And we’re getting orders to take these people’s lives.”

- Brandon Bryant – former U.S. drone sensor operator quoted in the documentary Drone. Democracy Now, April 17, 2014.

5. Drone attacks violate basic human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including rights to the protection of life (Article 3), privacy (Article 12) and due process (Article 10).  The UDHR, born out of the horrors of World War II, was ratified by the United States in 1948 and forms the basis for international human rights law today.

6. “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

- Principle IV of The Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950.

7. “…there are grounds to maintain that anyone who believes or has reason to believe that a war is being waged in violation of minimal canons of law and morality has an obligation of conscience to resist participation in and support of that war effort by every means at his disposal. In that respect, the Nuremberg principles provide guidelines for citizens' conscience and a shield that can be used in the domestic legal system to interpose obligations under international law between the government and members of the society.”

- Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law and practice, Princeton University.  From The Circle of Responsibility”, The Nation, June 13, 2006.

8. “According to the Nuremberg Principles, it is not only the right, but also the duty of individuals to make moral and legal judgments concerning wars in which they are asked to fight.” 

– John Scales Avery, world peace activist, The Nuremberg Principles and Individual Responsibility, Countercurrents, July 30, 2012.

9.  U.S. MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drone attacks have killed at least 6,000* people. That's an estimate by KnowDrones.com based on various reports including those of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

10. In addition, to the death and injury resulting from drone attacks, the presence of drones overhead terrorizes whole populations in drone war zones, leading to disruptions to family and community life and psychological injury.

“…the fear of strikes undermines people’s sense of safety to such an extent that it has at times affected their willingness to engage in a wide variety of activities, including social gatherings, educational and economic opportunities, funerals…the U.S. practice of striking one area multiple times, and its record of killing first responders, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid to assist injured victims.

 -   Living Under Drones, September, 2012.

 

IF BEALE AIR FORCE BASE COULD TALK: Facts About Drones and Beale AFB from KnowDrones.com

The MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper are the primary killer drones used by the United States. The Predator carries two Hellfire missiles and the Reaper can carry four Hellfires and two five hundred pound bombs. The Hellfire is designed for use against armored vehicles and structures and has a devastating effect when used against people in the open or in civilian vehicles.  People are often dismembered or pulverized.

Since the U.S. began drone warfare in Afghanistan in 2001, drone attacks have been undertaken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, and possibly in Syria.

About 6,000 people have been killed by US Drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, according to estimates provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the foremost independent monitor of drone war casualties. Of this total up to 230 are children killed in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to Bureau statistics. The Bureau does not have an estimate of women killed in these countries or across the whole drone war. But judging from what little is known of women being killed in drone attacks and the international scope of the drone attacks, it appears that many women have been killed, probably numbering in at least the hundreds. It is impossible to know with any certainty how many people have been killed by U.S. drones. The U.S. has withheld all information on the extent of the drone attacks, and drone attacks occur in very remote areas, making independent accounting difficult and grossly incomplete.

Drones flown out of Beale AFB are "accomplice drones." Global Hawk drones controlled from Beale are used in the targeting of Predator and Reaper attacks. The 48th Intelligence Squadron at Beale AFB processes information gathered by the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and RQ – Global Hawk drones to permit attacks by U.S. forces worldwide. Predator and Reaper drones are not flown from control centers at Beale.

At least 100 Predator and 200 Reaper drones are believed to be operating now; exact figures are not available.  At any given moment the U.S. has at least 180 Predator and Reaper drones in the air; 60 combat patrols, comprised of three drones each.  The Air Force wants to increase the number of constant combat patrols to 65, putting 195 drones in the air at any given time.

As of December 2013, there were about 1,350 drone pilots in the U.S. Air Force, according to an April 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which said that the Air Force had not been meeting its recruiting goals for drone pilots. Further, more drone pilots are quitting than can be trained, as reported by TomDispatch on March 26, 2015, which said the Air Force would like to have 1,700 pilots to cover the 65 combat patrols.  A key factor in the attrition is said to be over work, increasing even more as missions expand in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.  It appears likely that the stress is also leading to mistakes being made, further endangering those under surveillance.

The GAO report says that the U.S. Air Force “has not fully analyzed” the “stress” faced by pilots who go home every day after flying missions. The report said: “…pilots in each of the 10 focus groups (which included Beale pilots)…reported that being deployed-on-station (going home every day) negatively affected their quality of life, as it was challenging for them to balance their warfighting responsibilities with their personal lives for extended periods of time.”


Corporate Policing at the University of Virginia

The image and caption at right are from the University of Virginia Magazine which wants you to know that Dr. Who has landed in Charlottesville.

Oh, and he brought along George Orwell. Now private employees of war-and-prisons-profiteer G4S -- and possibly the very same people who serve the food and mow the grass and pick up the trash at UVa, all of whom need more than one fulltime job to make a living -- will serve as "ambassadors" from the world of corporate Homeland population control to the students of UVa.

No word on when the Alcohol police who beat up a student on the corner recently will be arrested for that assault. Should we perhaps ask an ambassador?

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Smoking the Democrack

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By Cindy Sheehan and David Swanson

 The U.S. government is toying with a war with nuclear Russia while already waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, having done severe damage to Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Military spending is climbing ever higher. Presidential war powers are ever more extreme. The proliferation of nuclear technology is combining with the ease and secrecy of drone wars to raise the risk of a Dr. Strangelove finish to the human species. And, let's face it, you had more time to give a damn when the president was a Republican.

 The top means by which war kills is the diversion of unfathomable piles of money away from life-saving initiatives. That spending continues without pause. President Obama and most of Congress want it increased even more next year. The Congressional Progressive Caucus just put out a budget that made no mention of military spending but -- if you searched through the numbers -- was proposing to cut it by 1% ($13 billion of $1.3 trillion in spending across several departments). We're talking about the single item that takes up over half of discretionary spending. One or two percent of it could make U.S. college education free, or end starvation on earth. A bigger slice could take on climate protection. Everyone across the inch-wide chasm of the political divide in Washington prefers to see the militarism continue. Of 100 senators, 100 favor sanctions on Iran. Bipartisanship is alive and well when it comes to war promotion.

The top risk from war is nuclear holocaust. That danger continues to grow with active U.S. assistance. The second worst thing a U.S. president can do about war is grab more war powers and pass them on to all future presidents. In that regard, President Obama has outdone President Bush. Lying to Congress is now totally routine: Congress and the United Nations can simply be ignored. Secrecy has mushroomed. President Obama picks out men, women, and children to murder from a list on Tuesdays. The public, the Congress, and the courts have no say and often no knowledge. President Obama has dramatically increased U.S. weapons sales abroad -- the U.S. being far and away the top supplier of weapons to regions that the U.S. public thinks of as inherently violent. 

While Obama's body count doesn't yet begin to approach Bush's in terms of people directly and violently killed, that's not a standard that will get us to survival, much less peace and prosperity.

Why do so many people think of the political party that lied the United States into two world wars, the Korean war, the war on Vietnam, the Kosovo war, the Libya war, and the war on ISIS -- the party that dropped the nukes on Japan -- as a party for peace?

Why do longtime war advocates like Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton get a pass? What benefit from making Hillary president could outweigh shutting down the peace movement for 4 or 8 years?

Hillary was instrumental in persuading her husband to bomb the former Yugoslavia against the will of Congress. She pushed for the 2003 attack on Iraq and the 2011 attack on Libya. She tried to get a U.S. war on Syria going in 2013. She pushed for the Obama-era escalation in Afghanistan -- a war that is now more Obama's than Bush's by every measure.

Hillary has urged Iran to be aware that she could "obliterate" it. She has giggled with pleasure at having killed Muamar Gadaffi. She's hawkish on Ukraine.

What can be done?

Tell people you know what warmaking has become, because someday the president will be a Republican and they'll grow outraged.

Give up on the idea of bestowing royal tokenism on every deserving demographic before the planet's trashed. We don't have that kind of time to work with.

Oregon has just made voter registration automatic, and California is proposing the same. Devote yourself to making sure that your state does likewise, and refuse to any longer think of registering people to vote as useful activism or to waste your time doing it.

Rather than giving a blank check to war mongering for the next nearly two years and then possibly beginning to object, save us all the suffering and pretend the president right now is Dick Cheney. Protest accordingly.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc Casey Sheehan who was murdered in Iraq on 04/04/04 by the US Empire and has become a non-flinching and uncompromising peace activist and host of her own podcast: Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and Editor in Chief of the Soapbox People's Network.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Can Anne Hathaway Help End the Mindset That Creates Wars?

"If others have their will Ann hath a way. By cock, she was to blame. She put the comether on him, sweet and twentysix. The greyeyed goddess who bends over the boy Adonis, stooping to conquer, as prologue to the swelling act, is a boldfaced Stratford wench who tumbles in a cornfield a lover younger than herself." —James Joyce

Can it matter that a famous actress will play a drone pilot on stage in New York and play it as a troubled murderer with an updated effort to wash out the damn spot of blood on her famous hands?

With permanent war declared the norm and entirely acceptable, only a generation removed from wisdom and understanding, hadn't we better hope so?

April 7 to May 17, Anne Hathaway stars in Grounded. I've read the script, or at least an earlier version of the script, and believe this could make the difference that's needed.

Of course this other movie about a troubled drone pilot has come and gone.

Real life troubled drone pilots have tried to be heard.

The patterns of stress and suicide have been documented. Moral injury and post-traumatic stress plague the desk-bound flight-suited pilots at Creech Air Force Base where the commander told a reporter he was surprised by and unable to meet the demand for counselors and chaplains.

One proposed solution is allowing a drone pilot to instruct a computerized personality, like Siri in iPhones, to do the killing for him or her. A better solution might be to deprive President Obama of that trick. When he goes through his Tuesday list of men, women, and children and picks which ones to have murdered, he doesn't have to do the murdering. Presidents spend countless hours visiting all kinds of workplaces and taking part in all variety of ceremonies; why not require that they take a brief shift at the drone joystick when the victim has been spotted and fire the missile themselves, and watch the body parts scatter themselves, and see the little children who were in the wrong place blown to bits themselves, and feel the sweat and the guilt themselves?

Perhaps the next best thing will be seeing a celebrity, whom people imagine they know, play the role of drone pilot on stage. Anne Hathaway has acted in many films and plays but is familiar even to people who've seen none of them. Seeing her in Grounded has the potential to cause people to engage in the activity that seems the absolute hardest to provoke, namely thinking.

Grounded won't give you the statistics on how most of the people murdered with drones are no threat to the United States at all, or how drone murders are producing more enemies than they kill, or how the idea that a drone war on Yemen is better than another kind of war falls apart when you realize that the drone war replaced no war at all and has now predictably generated a ground war as, in fact, some of us predicted it would.

Grounded won't tell you that most drone victims are traumatized by the constant threat of instant death with no possible defense. But it will show us what that godlike power does to those who use it. The problem with drone murders is not the distance or the lack of bravery and risk; the problem is the murdering of people. Drone pilots see their victims in new ways, via video, and see them for days or weeks before murdering them.

The transition from mass-murderer to civilian living peacefully in a society that forbids murder must happen every single day for a drone pilot who drives home to sleep. One can imagine how disorienting the shift must be. It should become equally jarring for those of us who live peaceful lives and then read about the latest murders in our names by distant flying robot death machines.

Here's one way to help if you're anywhere near New York: attend the play and while you're there, collect signatures on this petition: BanWeaponizedDrones.org.

Top 10 Reasons Bill Maher Is Not "Our Best Weapon Against ISIS"

10. This sort of argument for debunking Islam in the media as the best way to "defeat" ISIS/ISIL misses the fact that ISIS recruits from the United States make up almost certainly much less than 1% of recruits, so that 99% of the problem, even on its own terms, remains completely unsolved.

9. Even if failure to expose Islam and other religions as ancient myths lacking basis in reality were a significant cause of people joining ISIS, it would not approach the primary cause without which ISIS would not exist, namely U.S. violence in the Middle East. Explaining to would-be ISIS martyrs that there aren't really 72 virgins and isn't really a heaven couldn't possibly do as much to reduce ISIS recruitment as explaining to active and would-be members of the U.S. military that arming and bombing and drone-striking distant lands doesn't actually protect the United States but rather generates so much hostility against it that groups like ISIS produce full-length films imploring the U.S. military to attack it.

8. Of course religion is often a huge part of what motivates members of the U.S. military as well. Congressman Sam Johnson has introduced the "Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015," to force cadets at the Air Force Academy to say "so help me God" in their oaths. Ted Cruz just announced his campaign for the U.S. presidency at Liberty University, where students learn to drone-murder for Jesus. What is "our best weapon" against that?

7. U.S. recruits to ISIS enamored of Muslim martyrdom could just as well have risked their lives preaching Islam in Alabama. Why choose to risk their lives attacking U.S. troops? The reason is not simply a variety of Islam. Rather it is alienation from the United States. Anwar Al-Awlaki was plenty Muslim when he supported U.S. wars. It was U.S. racism, bigotry, brutality, and militarism that drove him into opposition to the U.S. -- which tragically took the form of advocating violence.

6. Bill Maher pushes racism and bigotry, even concentration camps. The idea that such attitudes are the best response to Islamic hostility and violence is outrageously naive. Were Maher advocating inclusiveness and community at home and abroad, I might take seriously the idea that he was helping.

5. Who is the group to which "Our" is applied in the phrase "our best weapon"? As a human I want an answer to ISIS that works for people in the United States, Europe, Iraq, Syria, and the rest of that region, including Sunnis, and including members of ISIS. The idea that a new war on ISIS is going to repair the damage of the previous wars, which created ISIS, is sadly delusional (but if it leads President Obama to make peace with Iran, I'll take that result gratefully).

4. What is the "weapon" in "our best weapon"? When speech is understood as a weapon it ceases to be useful as speech. Religion is declining in the West and even in the United States, but thinking of those still clinging to it as wartime enemies is exactly the wrong way to advance that process. Thinking of an actual war that has numerous motivations as a struggle over religious beliefs will, likely as not, cause those sympathetic to one side or the other to adopt those beliefs or to hold them more firmly.

3. Highlighting stories of a small number of would-be U.S. recruits is propaganda aimed at instilling fear and suggesting a local presence and an actual threat from what is after all a small and very distant group of people.

2. Such propaganda hides actual motivations and causes. Causes hidden include: past wars on Iraq, sectarian divisions created by those wars, poverty and desperation, regional power grabs, international power grabs, the flow of weapons into the region (largely from the United States), the brutality and cruelty and incompetence of the government of Iraq, the weapons and trainers provided by the United States to the "moderate" groups that cease to be moderate or that surrender to those that are not. Motivations include: rage, hunger, fear, the desire for revenge, the desire to see the United States leave the region, the desire to achieve power or safety or riches, the profit motives of the weapons sellers and oil barons, and the belief that violence can be used to end violence.

1. Hiding the primary problems keeps us from seeing the primary solutions. Each of these steps would work wonders compared to telling U.S. television viewers that Islam isn't true: Ceasing to ship weapons to the region; urging an arms embargo on all parties; negotiating a ceasefire with all regional parties including Iran and Russia; sending in a major contingent of nonviolent peaceworkers and human shields, independent journalists, aid workers, and nonviolent activist trainers; providing reparations and aid on a Marshall Plan scale; negotiating a WMD-free Middle East. If those steps were being taken well, I'd be all for finding time to critique religions.