cover_18_Abolishing_War
Jan
06

Should Criminalizing War Start by Pretending It’s Legal?

Tag: Peace and War, Prosecution

There’s a terrific new book on abolishing war called Abolishing War: Criminalizing War, Removing War Causes, Removing War as Institution. The authors are Johan Galtung, Erika Degortes, Irene Galtung, Malvin Gattinger, and Naakow Grant-Hayford. Johan Galtung, who was recently on my radio show, is brilliant as always, drawing on vast knowledge and wisdom.

As the book’s subtitle suggests, it proposes three types of approaches to eliminating war: “three approaches to have war join slavery and colonization in the dust-bin of history. No question of picking and choosing, they belong together and the more seamlessly, the better.” I couldn’t agree more, and will be drawing on the ideas in this book in the work we do at World Beyond War.

The book’s longest section is on criminalizing war, and it offers an argument I haven’t seen before. I think there’s great value in the argument, and that it can augment others. Nonetheless, I’m going to quibble with it.

Here is a book that practically quotes the arguments of the Outlawrists of the 1920s without mentioning them. It recommends, as its first recommended course of action right on the inside of the front cover, recreating Japan’s Article 9 for all states. And yet it largely ignores and bizarrely dismisses the existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, from which Article 9 derives (and which it practically quotes) and which already applies to most large nations.

The book’s second recommendation is to somehow build on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ “implicit” criminalization of war. Nowhere is it explained how an implicit criminalization of war is more useful than an explicit one. In fact, Irene Galtung rather wistfully imagines how nice it would be to have an explicit one. Nowhere is the problem mentioned that the United Nations, as “implicit” criminalizer of war, legalizes defensive and otherwise UN-authorized wars — two loopholes that have been stretched and abused to effectively allow any Western war whatsoever. This is, of course, in contrast to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which bans all war and requires that nations settle all of their disputes entirely peacefully.

In the one instance where the book refers to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, it claims that, “this opens two huge loop-holes: use of force by non-members, and by and on non-states.” There are a number of errors in this claim. One of them is chronological. There were no laws banning war prior to Kellogg-Briand. In forbidding war between nations, the pact took war away in many cases from many major wagers of war. The pact was open to and remains open to all nations. Any nation that is not a member can simply send a letter to the U.S. State Department and instantly become a member. So, the so-called loophole for non-members is one that has been closing and could close further, but it wasn’t opened by the pact. War was legal for all states against all states prior to 1928.

What about non-states? The states that made the pact considered, and still to this day consider, war by non-states to be illegal. In fact, they consider illegal almost any action, if not the very existence, of most entities that might wage war without being a state. Within states, killing by anyone other than the state, is forbidden by national laws and by customary standards of law — as outlined, in fact, by the strategy pursued in the book by Galtung et alia — on which, more in a second. The bigger shortcoming is the failure to outlaw war by a member state against a non-state, but most such wars are also wars on the populations of states and often against the will of the governments of those states, often — indeed — against yet other states using proxies to wage war for them. A shortcoming, moreover, is not a condemnation of a useful step as counterproductive; it’s just a shortcoming requiring an additional step forward.

Clearly Galtung does not really think that criminalizing war between nations is an unhelpful step. He wants to do it singly, nation by nation, modeled on Japan’s Article 9 (which arguably has the very same shortcomings as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, plus the shortcoming of only applying to a single nation). Of course, Article 9 is under threat, and somewhat similar statements in the Constitutions of Italy and Germany and other nations are even less adhered to. But Galtung is right: bans on war in national constitutions should be strengthened, defended, and complied with. Doing so, however, presents a problem of logic in dismissing the Kellogg-Briand Pact as unhelpful. Never mind the purity of heart of its creators (its creators in fact were masses of people who brought legislators to it kicking and screaming) or the perfection of compliance by its members heretofore. If Japan launches a major war next year, Galtung will still want Article 9 upheld — or he should; I will. The Kellogg-Briand Pact is a law clearly banning all war for most major nations, including the least likely nations to agree to newly creating such a law today. Other nations could sign onto it and urge their fellow members to comply with it. Malaysia, for example, could choose to become a member of the pact and suddenly find itself a leader among its members by advocating for compliance — and for accountability and reparations and reconciliation — exactly as it would have to do with eternal vigilance if it instead used its own version of Article 9, only in this case with the major war makers of the world formally committed in clear language to compliance as well.

Because war is, in a major way, already illegal, calls to criminalize it ring in my ear a bit hollow, a bit like the rhetoric of the U.S. Congress proposing over and over again, year after year, to re-criminalize torture, rather than prosecuting torturers under long-standing laws. But the approach to criminalizing war proposed by Irene Galtung certainly has some merit. It doesn’t exactly claim that war is now legal, but it does claim that in written law it is legal, and this strikes me as dangerous.

The argument that Irene Galtung makes is not unrelated to the argument I have long made about drone murders, namely that murder is illegal under national law and customary international law. And it is nearly identical to the argument that Marjorie Cohn and other lawyers make for the illegality of torture under customary international law — only applied to war rather than torture.

Irene Galtung’s idea is that customary international law is higher than written international law or written national law. The problem, as she readily admits, is that — being unwritten — it is highly controversial. Still, what’s needed is an act of interpretation not entirely unlike the interpretation of a written law. Galtung claims that all national constitutions provide a right to life, and that the right to use deadly force in self-defense exists only when such use is necessary for self-defense. War is deadly force, simply on a larger scale, and it is never necessary, as there are always alternatives. Therefore, logically, even if you’d be hard-pressed to get many well-paid lawyers or human rights organizations or governments or judges to admit it, war is a crime.

This argument (which I have, of course, only sketched very roughly) is smart, logical, and educationally useful. I plan to repeat it often. But what appeals to “customary law” come down to are attempts to radically change legal custom on the authority of current legal custom (reinterpreted). That this couldn’t be helped by also pointing to existing laws like the Kellogg-Briand Pact is difficult for me to imagine. In fact, later in the book the authors cite the UN’s Declaration of the Right of the Peoples to Peace. That we have a right to peace means that we have a right to the absence of war. The Declaration states that it:

“Emphasizes that ensuring the exercise of the right of peoples to peace demands that the policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The weakness is in those last few words, as the Charter contradicts itself and permits war. The Kellogg-Briand Pact lacks that particular weakness. I would love someday to hear a clear statement from Johan Galtung on what weaknesses he thinks its carries that justify its dismissal from public awareness and use.

Jan
04

Talk Nation Radio: Cian Westmoreland, former U.S. Air Force technician in Afghanistan, speaks against war

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-cian-westmoreland-former-us-air-force-technician-in-afghanistan-speaks-against-war 

Cian Westmoreland is a former Air Force technician who served in Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan at the 73rd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. He assisted in building a signal relay station that was used for transmitting and receiving data, radio, and radar picture for unmanned and manned missions for approximately 250,000 square miles over Afghanistan. In a report provided to him after his tour, he was credited with assisting in 2,400 close air support missions and 200+ kills of supposed enemies. The UNAMA report for that year, 2009, claimed however that this number also included 359 civilians killed in airstrikes. Westmoreland discusses his experience.Learn more: http://projectredhand.org

See related film: http://dronethedocumentary.com

Support whistleblowers: https://whisper.networkforgood.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 athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

and athttps://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Jan
03

You Should Watch Making of a Murderer

Tag: Civil Rights, Prison Industry, Prosecution

There's a 10-hour documentary on Netflix with more to teach us than all the combined episodes of Star Wars. (Yes, it's nice to see a storm trooper refuse to fight, but only until he gleefully joins in the killing for the other side, with all his victims still in masks so that we, the executioner audience, don't have to see faces die.)

Making of a Murderer is a hugely important film, and it is in fact quite suspenseful. And I am about to SPOIL the plot for you. So please STOP READING until you've watched the film if you want it to include suspense. (To give you time to watch something so lengthy, I'll also spoil the rest of the NCAA basketball season and tournament for you. Virginia wins.)

HAVE YOU STOPPED READING IF YOU DON'T WANT THE PLOT SPOILED?

Good.

I'm going to assume you've seen Making of a Murderer or are not concerned about the element of suspense.

The reason I find a need to write about this is because it exposes a silent epidemic. If child abuse or rape or child labor or some other horror were never talked about, an article or book exposing an unknown epidemic would be quite valuable. And, historically, a video documenting such a thing would be remarkable.

This past year, videos filmed primarily on telephones have exposed the long-pre-existing epidemic of U.S. police murdering unarmed people. We still don't know the full size of that epidemic. It will of course pale beside something like cancer, while dwarfing other horrors about which we are trained to obsess, such as Islamic terrorism.

Making of a Murderer exposes something else that police do. But this is a horror that cannot be documented in a 5-minute video. It takes 10 hours. What police, together with prosecutors do, on a significant scale but a scale we have not yet tried to measure, is this: they frame innocent people and send them to prison.

The psychology involved is tantalizing but a bit of a distraction. When a police officer shoots an unarmed kid, we can ask whether the act grew out of sadism or racism or fear or carelessness. The fact is it grew out of impunity. When police and prosecutors -- and judges and juries -- railroad innocent people to prison, we can ask whether they've acted out of malice, ignorance, fear, or recklessness. The fact is that they've acted out of a sense of untouchable power.

That every level of law enforcement is twisted by racism is well documented in The New Jim Crow, among other places. We know that ugly and ignorant views regularly influence what police and prosecutors do. But Making of a Murderer is a true story of white people framing innocent white people with crimes. The victims of this frame-up are poor, poorly educated, and of markedly low intelligence and social skills. Various prejudices may have been at work. But primarily what's revealed in the documentary is the power of the presumption of guilt that comes with all criminal accusations, combined with the power of the presumption of innocence that in our culture belongs to the police, and only to the police.

During the explosive growth of the U.S. prison system, most people have gone to prison under plea bargains. That many innocent people have falsely pled guilty to plea bargains in order to avoid the risk of a higher penalty has been well documented, although we have no idea of the true scale of this phenomenon. Among those who go to trial in the United States, we know also that a significant number of innocents are found guilty. One reason we know this is that in a tiny fraction of cases there is DNA evidence to be tested that can prove innocence, and -- particularly during the 1980s -- there have been cases in which that evidence was maintained but not tested. Later testing has resulted in numerous exonerations.

Those lucky cases in which DNA evidence was available to free an innocent were not unlike most other cases in the manner in which a false guilty verdict was arrived at. As I've noted before, Brandon Garrett's Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong examines the prosecutions of the first 250 people exonerated by DNA testing. Of the 250, 76% were misidentified by an eyewitness -- most of the witnesses having been led to that act by police and/or prosecutor, some of them badgered and threatened, others merely manipulated. Invalid forensic science expertise contributed to 61% of the convictions, much of it willfully manipulated, some fraction perhaps attributable to well-intentioned but negligent incompetence. Informants, mostly jailhouse informants, and most of them manipulated and bribed by police or prosecutor, helped out in 21% of the trials. In 16% of the cases, the accused supposedly confessed to the crime, but these "confessions" tended to be the result of police intimidation, manipulation, brutality, and simple lying. Garrett fears that similar problems infect the U.S. justice system as a whole. I have no doubt that they do.

In Making of a Murderer we see police produce a false confession, witnesses provide false testimony, the FBI provide false scientific evidence, and -- in a rape case toward the beginning of the story -- an eyewitness led by police into misidentifying a rapist. That earlier crime puts the protagonist in prison for 18 years before a DNA exoneration. Once free, he files a suit for $36 million that threatens to expose numerous crimes by the police who framed him for rape. But at that moment, they frame him for murder.

One of the police and prosecutors' main tools is the media. They produce a false confession by their victim's 16-year-old nephew that proves too ludicrous to be used in court. They never call him as a witness against his uncle. But the jury pool has already been overwhelmingly contaminated by the dramatic tale fed to the media. Many years ago, I reported on the production by the Culpeper, Virginia, police of a false confession by a low-IQ man named Earl Washington. The transcript of the confession was absurd. When asked a straight-forward question, Washington would guess, and always guess wrong. He didn't know any of the facts of the case. But the questioner would then feed him the facts and ask "Isn't that right?" and Washington, aiming to please, would agree. Some states have since required the videotaping of interrogations and confessions.

In the case of Making of a Murderer there is enough videotape of the questioning of the 16-year-old to make crystal-clear what happened. And yet it didn't do a damn bit of good. The kid had no money and therefore no expert defense. His lawyers and his jury blew it. But his uncle had two huge advantages. First he had been exonerated for an earlier crime. The fact that the police were out to get him was widely recognized. The local police department was forbidden to take part in the investigation of the new crime, and took part anyway, and happened to find key evidence. Second, Steve Avery -- that's the name of this innocent man -- settled his $36 million suit for $400,000 and used that money to hire excellent attorneys.

Now, having excellent attorneys is very rare but far from unheard of. Wealthy people have them all the time. But having attorneys who actually believe you're innocent is virtually unheard of. And having attorneys willing to argue that the police framed you is the most extreme rarity. Avery had all of these things, and it still was not enough.

What can we do? Sign this petition to free Steve Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey.

What can we do about the thousands who could not afford to go to trial, could not afford a good lawyer, could not devise any means to persuade their good lawyer to believe them, and/or could not convince their good layer who believed them to risk his or her career by taking on the police department?

I think we have to work to encourage the production of films that will make the phenomenon of frame-ups as well known as the phenomenon of police murder. It's either that or get people to start reading.

Dec
31

Identity Berned

Tag: Elections, Peace and War

Every time I write about a book about Bernie Sanders, somebody sends me a better one. If this keeps up, by the time his campaign is over I should be reading the best book ever written and be completely out of touch with reality. The latest is The Bern Identity by Will Bunch.

These books don't make me like Bernie Sanders any more or less, or for that matter take seriously any more or less the idea that a likable personality is particularly relevant. But they do inform me about Sanders and about his supporters. Bunch's is the most substantive, best researched, and most coherent book of the bunch so far.

Bunch admires Bernie for learning the lessons of the 1960s and, for the most part, never selling out. Bunch finds this remarkable, almost unique. And, of course, it is that among U.S. Senators, and among the gang of misfits occupying the two stages at the freak shows we call presidential primary debates. But there are many thousands of people who woke up during the 1960s and never went to sleep. Many of them have worked for peace and justice ever since with hardly a burnout. One could pick any number of them and stack their accomplishments up quite impressively against those of Bernie Sanders.

Yes, I agree that Bernie's injecting of a little bit of sense into corporate television is important and very hard to measure. Yes, I have no doubt that there's a bit more integrity and relevance in Bernie's background than there was in the legend of the African-American community-organizing author come to save us while shrewdly pretending not to. But Bernie holding the biggest political rallies in some big cities since Eugene McCarthy may not be an unmixed blessing.

I've written before about Bernie volunteers professing to be motivated by policies that their candidate explicitly opposes. Yet I cannot stay untouched by the excitement Bunch depicts at massive Bernie rallies he's attended. It's wonderful for people to suddenly discover that something might be possible, to suddenly give a damn, to suddenly do a tiny something about it. But it's also miserable to consider that they have been so well trained to do this only as cheerleaders for a candidate.

Surely that's not the lesson of the 1960s in which the civil rights and antiwar and other movements organized around issues and imposed change on the entire bipartisan political structure -- just as major change has usually been brought about. Yes, elections were hugely important in the Sixties, but they were secondary. Now they are Everything. The peace movement shut down in 2007 because there was to be an election in 2008, and it won't start up again until a Republican moves into the White House. Elections are terrific -- I'd love to see a fair and open one in the United States some day -- but there is a danger in the new myth that they are all that there is.

Bunch's book celebrates Bernie Sanders as having stayed true to his Sixties politics all these years, while the public moved away and has finally returned to him. I think there's something to that, but would offer a few caveats. First, there have always been millions of people wanting progressive policies, and they have been effectively shut out by the media, by the Democratic Party, and by an increasingly corrupted political system. Second, the other candidates have moved so far right that Bernie is closer to where a middle of the roader sits. Third, Bernie is fundamentally rightwing on militarism, and nobody wants to analyze that problem in any depth.

On the first point, I recommend Ted Rall's book on Bernie, the first half of which is a history of the Democratic Party's flight to the right.

On the second point, let's be honest, there are many people who could be doing more or less what Bernie is doing right now in the Democratic Primary. Most potential candidates sat this one out, either because Hillary Clinton claimed such a lock on the nomination or because committing to support her should she win was too revolting a decision to make in order to run as a Democrat. The media completely whites out third-party candidates like Jill Stein, and the public has been convinced they're useless. And yet, even as the Republicans ape Hitler and Mussolini, Hillary Clinton tries to position herself to their right. Bernie is a brilliant, dedicated, relatively honest candidate who has been given an opening by a combination of circumstances, not least of them perhaps the media's notion that an undecided primary is better for ratings as long as there's no risk of someone like Sanders actually winning.

On the third point, Bunch's history of Sanders' life suggests that it's not entirely new for him to give far less interest to peace than to domestic matters. There's no account of Sanders growing outraged over the war on Vietnam, rather over President John Kennedy's opposition to the Cuban revolution. Sanders registered as a conscientious objector, but he organized against racial discrimination and against restrictions on having sex on campus. Bunch seems not to notice the elephant that's not in the room. He says a Sanders speech is a laundry list of liberal issues in which everyone will hear whatever they're waiting for. Not if you're waiting to hear about peace.

Bunch doesn't hide the shortcomings. He notes that the Sanders campaign staff forced the removal of a banner advocating rights for Palestinians, that in 1983 peace activists protested a GE weapons plant in Burlington demanding conversion to peaceful manufacturing and Mayor Sanders had them arrested in the name of preserving 3,000 weapons-making jobs, and that in recent years Sanders has supported the production of the F-35 also in the name of jobs for Vermonters.

In 1972 Sanders wrote, as Bunch quotes him, that the daily U.S. military budget was greater than the annual state budget of Vermont. At $4 billion today, the state of Vermont is slightly over one day's military spending (taking annual military spending to be $1.2 trillion) but it has been a long time since Sanders has demanded conversion to peaceful spending. Instead, he has accepted the truly sociopathic notion that jobs (and jobs of a particular sort, as if a good socialist doesn't know that the same dollars could produce more jobs if spent on peace) justify militarism. Imagine how that sounds to the 96% of humanity never mentioned by Sanders, except when citing the successes of European nations whose radically lower military spending he seems not to have noticed.

Dear parent of dead children in Yemen just blown up by U.S. weapons, let me assure you that the money Saudi Arabia paid for those weapons -- if not the "contributions" to the Clinton family -- produced a lot of jobs. And while we could have had even more jobs by investing in something useful like green energy that would keep you from baking to death in the years to come, the fact is that I don't really give a damn.

Militarism is at least half of what Congress spends money on each year. It's not my personal quirky interest. Is it OK that Bernie excuses Israel's crimes because he's Jewish? Should we overlook his support for guns because he's from Vermont? These are debatable, because he's so wonderful on so many other things. But continuing down the path of sociopathic militarism is not an option if we are to maintain a livable planet. Bernie voted against the 2003 attack on Iraq, but then worked against those in Congess trying to block funding for it. Was that the right compromise? Was that authenticity?

Of course, the military spending debate is usually about the wars that add 10% or so to the standard military spending. When it comes to those, Sanders wants Saudi Arabia to start paying for them. But there are problems with that scheme. First, Saudi Arabia gets its money by selling the world the poisonous fossil fuels that will destroy it. Second, Saudi Arabia buys the biggest pile of its weapons from the United States, which thereby contributes to the mass slaughter -- and everyone knows it. Third, Saudi Arabia is one of the largest sources of funding and support for the people that Bernie imagines it funding a war against. Fourth, continuing these insane wars in the Middle East will continue to spread violence around and outside of that region, including to the United States, regardless of what share of the bill the United States is asking Saudi Arabia to pick up. That cycle of violence will only end by taking a different approach, not by continuing down the same road with a different billing scheme.

The great hope that comes to the smarter people at rallies for good candidates under corrupt electoral systems is that they are building a movement that will outlast the campaign. But when has that actually happened? And how can such a candidate-focused movement not bow before the candidate's own compromises?

The election book we really need is the one that explains the minor role elections play in social change. The next-best election book that we need, the one I keep looking for, is the one that outlines what each candidate proposes to do if elected. What would their proposed budgets look like? Which nations would they bomb first? Does Bernie think military spending is too high or too low? Who knows! I expect the question not to come up in the next dozen Bernie books, but I'll keep looking.

Dec
29

Bern the Feel

Tag: Elections

If you have to obsess over a political candidate who's ocassionally allowed on television, please do so with Ted Rall's book on Bernie. This is not John Nichols' interview of Bernie in which he forgets that foreign policy even exists. This is not Jonathan Tasini's almost worshipful book in which he selectively includes the best and omits the worst of Bernie Sanders' record.

And this is not even just an honest look at the facts about Bernie (which Rall sees as far more positive than negative). What sets this book apart is not that it's a cartoon, but that it's an argument for placing Bernie Sanders in a particular position in U.S. history, namely as the restoration of liberalism to a Democratic Party that hasn't seen it since the McGovern campaign.

In fact, a huge chunk of the book is not about Bernie at all, but is a history of the rightward drifting of the Democratic Party over the decades. Another big chunk is a history of Bernie's childhood and career. Both of these sections are well done. Then comes the "Return of the Democratic Left," the supposed rebirth of leftism within the Democratic Party.

Rall suggests this as a possibility, but I'm pretty sure he finds it quite a bit more likely than I do. Rall says that in order to win, Bernie has to create the impression that he can win. Well, of course, in a certain sense he could. Polls show him defeating Trump, for whatever polls are worth, and defeating him by more than Hillary Clinton would.

But is that what Bernie has to do to win? I should think he would have to convince the media gatekeepers that he favors corporate power, that he would have to win over the corrupt super-delegates, that he or a team of lawyers or a movement of activists would have to clean out the bureaucracy of the corrupt Democratic National Committee.

I remain convinced that the media is keeping Sanders and Trump around for ratings and will destroy them as soon as it chooses, and never chooses to do such a thing as early as the December of the year before the election. In part, I attribute a lot more power to the media in general than Rall may. He tells the story of the rise and fall of Occupy without mentioning the media that fundamentally created it and largely destroyed it. I also am of course aware that history is not quite as simple as a fairy tale.

"Here for the first time in 40 years was a candidate running for the Democratic nomination who was talking about bread and butter issues," writes Rall of Sanders. But such candidates have of course existed. The year 2004 doesn't make it into Rall's history, or the name John Kerry, but in that year I worked for the campaign of Dennis Kucinich who also ran in 2008. His campaigns failed badly, but Jesse Jackson's campaign of 1984 won more states than Sanders has yet won.Sanders is doing remarkably well, but when people's televisions tell them they must vote against him, will they disobey? The U.S. public has become intensely obedient. I think it's worth keeping a few things in mind:

1. The U.S. government mostly produces weapons and wars. Militarism is at least half of discretionary spending every year. Rall honestly notes various wars that Bernie has supported. But neither Rall nor anyone else has the slightest idea whether Sanders thinks military spending should stay at 50% of the budget, drop to 5%, or rise to 90%. Such basic policy questions are not asked.

2. Most serious political change has never come through elections, it has come through popular movements that influence or overwhelm whoever happens to hold power.

3. If Bernie is tossed under the bus by the caucus and primary voters, in predictable obedience to their televisions, the cause of saving the earth will not be lost. You will not be required to go into deep mourning. An interesting distraction will have been set aside, nothing more.

4. Understanding all of that, it'd certainly be better for Bernie to win than any of the other Democrats and Republicans. And it would mean the sort of Rooseveltian transformation of the Democratic Party that Rall sees coming.

Dec
29

Talk Nation Radio: William Arkin on the Most Militarized Universities in the United States

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-william-arkin-on-the-most-militarized-universities-in-the-united-states 

William M. Arkin is a scholar, analyst, author and journalist who has been working on the subject of militarism for over 40 years. He is author, most recently of Unmanned: Drones, Data and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare (Little Brown, 2015).  He is a national security consultant at Vice News and to NBC News Investigates, the investigative arms of NBC News. His website is at https://williamaarkin.wordpress.com Arkin is the author with Alexa O'Brien of a report on Vice News called "The Most Militarized Universities in America."

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

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 athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

and athttps://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Dec
23

How Did Hillary Win Over Michael Moore?

Tag: Elections

Here's Michael Moore explaining that you cannot morally vote for Hillary because of her war-making:

Here's Michael Moore in completely delusional mode fantasizing about a future President Hillary Clinton somehow turning on her Wall Street and warmongering chums:

What changed? Nothing about Hillary.

Dec
22

Talk Nation Radio: Chris Williams on How Paris Set the Earth on a Course to Burn

Tag: Environment, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-chris-williams-on-how-paris-set-the-earth-on-a-course-to-burn 

Chris Williams wrote the book Ecology & Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis. He is a long-time environmental activist with a scientific background and has authored numerous articles on the science and politics of climate change and energy for various media outlets. He's a writer-in-residence at Truthout, and an educator and professor at Pace University in the dept of chemical and physical sciences. He discusses climate change after Paris.

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 athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

and athttps://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Dec
17

A Quiz to See if U.S. Schools Taught You State Propaganda

Tag: Culture and Society

U.S. schools provide a great deal of useful information, but also leave out a great deal. Please see whether you can answer the following questions before scrolling down and clicking a link at the bottom for the answers. How many can your kids answer? Can your kids' teachers answer them? Can your parents answer them? Can your uncle who tells you whom to vote for and what to think answer them?

These questions are not intended to comprise an ideal comprehensive course in U.S. or world history. They are intended as a quick sampling of the sort of material that would be included, along with other material, in a basic education that wasn't twisted by the interests of the U.S. government. There might be many questions I would have chosen to include in the place of some of these if I knew more. I was educated in public schools in Fairfax Country, Va., where the schools were ranked among the best in the country. I have a Master's in philosophy from the University of Virginia. I didn't learn the answer to a single one of these questions in any school.

If you can give a generally accurate response to most of these questions, you have almost certainly gone out of your way to learn things not taught in U.S. schools. If you find most of them difficult to answer, I would urge you not to quickly conclude that this is because the topics asked about are of minor importance. Please consider with an open mind whether these questions are not in fact central and vital to the education of a citizen of the United States. And please consider how they relate to what you would expect people in other countries to learn about their own histories.  

1.     Should German schools teach how many people Germany killed in World War II?

2.     How many was it?

3.     Should U.S. schools teach how many people the United States killed in wars on Native Americans, in the Philippines, in Vietnam, or in Iraq?

4.     How many was it?

5.     How many Africans were put on ships to the United States in chains?

6.     How many made it there alive?

7.     How many people lived enslaved in the United States before slavery was officially ended?

8.     How many after that?

9.     Who was Olaudah Equiano?

10. What percentage of deaths in wars of the past half-century have been civilian?

11. How many people has the United States killed in wars, large and small, since 1950?

12. How many democratic governments has the U.S. government overthrown?

13. If you persistently asked for money for a trip, finally got some, went on the trip to a foreign country, and then murdered anyone you met there who failed to give you lots of gold, would a good teacher praise your persistence in asking for the money for the trip?

14. Would they praise Christopher Columbus' persistence?

15. Can you name some Virginians who chose to free everyone they had enslaved while Thomas Jefferson was enslaving more people?

16. What is the appropriate justification for Jefferson enslaving people?

17. What percentage of people in the world are in the United States?

18. What percentage of prisoners in the world are in the United States?

19. What percentage of military spending in the world is by the U.S. government?

20. What percentage is by the U.S. government and its close allies?

21. What percentage of foreign military troops stationed in nations around the world are U.S. troops?

22. What percentage of the world's nations have U.S. troops in them?

23. In what nations of the world do people have the longest life expectancy? Name 3 of the top 10.

24. What nations of the world poll highest for happiness? Name 3 of the top 10.

25. What nations of the world have the highest inequality of wealth? Name 3 of the top 10.

26. What nations of the world have the greatest economic opportunity and mobility? Name 3 of the top 10.

27. What nations' students score highest in academic tests? Name 3 of the top 10.

28. How many of the world's 50 wealthiest nations provide free and universal health coverage?

29. Which countries provide the best retirement security? Name 3 of the top 10.

30. How much does it cost to attend college in Brazil, Germany, Finland, France, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden?

31. In which nations do people average the shortest working hours? Name 3 of the top 10.

32. How many wealthy nations guarantee no paid parental leave?

33. Which nations have the highest labor union representation? Name 3 of the top 10.

34. In which nations of the world does one face the lowest risk of violent crime? Name 3 of the top 10.

35. Approximately how much money does the U.S. government spend every year?

36. Where does that money come from?

37. How much of that money is in dedicated permanent funds separate from the rest of the budget or otherwise mandatory, and how much is subject to the discretion of the Congress?

38. What percentage of discretionary spending is for war preparations?

39. What percentage is for foreign aid, education, or environmental protection?

40. What is the correlation between Congress members' actions and their sources of funding?

41. What is the correlation between greatest campaign funding and electoral victory?

42. What is the success rate in Congressional reelection campaigns by incumbents?

43. Does the U.S. government subsidize fossil fuels?

44. Does the U.S. government subsidize nuclear energy?

45. How many private insurance companies insure nuclear power plants?

46. Is the United States a democracy, republic, communist collective, dictatorship, or oligarchy?

47. Which nations are the world's top weapons exporters?

48. Name at least three recent wars in which weapons from the same nation were used on both sides.

49. Explain, by comparison to Canada, how the United States benefitted from its revolution against England.

50. How did the U.S. revolution benefit Native Americans, farmers, enslaved people, and women?

51. Were there more or fewer popular rebellions in the United States after the revolution?

52. What nation did Congress members predict would welcome invaders as liberators in 1812?

53. Did it?

54. What nation did the United States steal the northern half of in the 1840s through a bloody war despite that nation's willingness to negotiate a nonviolent sale of the land?

55. What was the one condition the United States insisted on in acquiring that land?

56. What President lied to start that war?

57. What Congressman denounced his lies?

58. What hero of that war and future president denounced the war as an immoral outrage?

59. What percentage of nations that abolished slavery fought civil wars before doing so?

60. Why did Mississippi say it was seceding from the United States?

61. How was slavery ended in Washington DC?

62. How many years since 1776 has the United States gone without any wars?

63. What evidence was there that Spain blew up the Maine?

64. What did Spain propose instead of the Spanish-American war?

65. Name three reasons President McKinley gave for occupying the Philippines.

66. Name three good reasons for World War I.

67. What was the general theme of the most common lies of the Four-Minute Men?

68. What was the Lusitania carrying on its fateful voyage, and what advertisement had Germany placed in U.S. newspapers prior to its sailing?

69. What U.S. Secretary of State resigned over President Woodrow Wilson's position regarding the Lusitania?

70. What were the Greer and the Kerney and which U.S. President lied about them?

71. Is the Monroe Doctrine popular in Latin America?

72. What U.S. President encouraged Japanese imperialism, promising them a Monroe Doctrine for Asia?

73. Name one or more observers who predicted at the time of the Treaty of Versailles that it would lead to World War II. Why did they say that?

74. Would a stalemate in World War I, rather than a lopsided victory, have led to the same future?

75. How many right-wing coups were seriously planned against President Franklin Roosevelt?

76. Who was Smedley Butler and what did he conclude about the institution of war?

77. Why was Butler locked up in Quantico?

78. What U.S. whistleblower was later locked up in Quantico and kept naked in a tiny cell?

79. What had she exposed?

80. During the 1930s and early 1940s U.S. peace activists held demonstrations against growing U.S. hostility and war preparations against what nation?

81. Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, what did Winston Churchill tell his cabinet that President Franklin Roosevelt had promised to do in order to bring the United States into the war in Europe?

82. What did FDR use a forged Nazi map to lie to the U.S. public about, and who forged the map?

83. What was the Ludlow Amendment?

84. Prior to Pearl Harbor, in the diary of the U.S. Secretary of War, when did he say FDR expected a Japanese attack?

85. Did the United States begin supporting China in its war against Japanese aggression before or after Pearl Harbor?

86. What was President Roosevelt's approach to Jewish refugees?

87. What percentage of World War II propaganda posters in the United States included mention of the need to rescue Jews?

88. Why did the New York Times downplay the story of the holocaust?

89. Why did Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin say she voted against U.S. entry into World War II?

90. During the rise of Nazism, did Wall Street investment in Germany decrease, stay the same, or increase?

91. How many people died in World War II?

92. What percentage of them died in German concentration camps?

93. Who said "If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. Neither of them thinks anything of their pledged word"?

94. What future director of the CIA rescued numerous top Nazis from prosecution and employed some of them for the United States?

95. How many former Nazis were employed by the U.S. military in Operation Paperclip?

96. What U.S. space agency's first director was a former Nazi who had employed slave labor?

97. Who remarked in 1937, "I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place"?

98. Within hours of Germany's surrender in World War II, Winston Churchill proposed a new war using what troops against what nation?

99. When did Japan first express willingness to surrender on the terms that actually ended World War II, before or after the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

100.       When President Truman announced the bombing of Hiroshima what did he lie that Hiroshima was?

101.       What nations of the world have nuclear weapons, and how many do they have?

102.       What nations have official policies of potentially using nuclear weapons first?

103.       What does the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty require nations with nuclear weapons to do?

104.       How has Iran violated that treaty?

105.       What do the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and a virgin birth have in common?

106.       What was Operation Northwoods?

107.       Who was Mohammad Mossadegh?

108.       What nation proposed to abandon its nuclear energy program in 2003 until the U.S. dismissed the proposal?

109.       What nation proposed peace negotiations before the Korean War?

110.       What nation tried to spread bubonic plague in North Korea?

111.       What U.S. presidential candidate secretly sabotaged peace talks for Vietnam?

112.       Did the United States begin arming Islamic radicals in Afghanistan, who would develop into al Qaeda, before or after the Soviet invasion?

113.       During the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan that began in 2001, what were the primary sources of funding for the other, or Taliban, side of the war?

114.       Prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, whom did the Taliban offer to turn over to a neutral country to have put on trial?

115.       How large has the al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan been during the war that began in 2001?

116.       How large was the al Qaeda presence in Iraq prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion?

117.       Has international terrorism decreased, stayed the same, or increased during the Global War on Terrorism?

118.       The U.S. government originally announced that a mission to kill or capture Osama bin Laden had succeeded despite his armed resistance. What did numerous people involved in that mission later change about that story?

119.       When Germany reunited and the Cold War ended, what promise did the United States make to Russia regarding NATO expansion?

120.       Was the promise kept?

121.       What nation's army in 1990 took babies out of incubators and left them on the floor to die?

122.       Prior to the Persian Gulf War, what nation offered to peacefully withdraw from Kuwait?

123.       Prior to September 11, 2001, what did a CIA memo warn President George W. Bush might happen?

124.       What nation was behind anthrax attacks in 2001 in the United States?

125.       Who in January 2003 proposed that a means of starting a war on Iraq would be to paint an airplane with United Nations colors and fly it low over Iraq until it was shot at?

126.       What portion of the nation of Iraq did the Iraqi government offer to let U.S. troops search prior to the 2003 U.S. attack?

127.       In 2003, how quickly did Iraq promise to hold internationally monitored elections if it were not attacked?

128.       Who offered to leave Iraq in 2003 if he could keep $1 billion and if Iraq would not be attacked?

129.       Whose 2003 testimony at the United Nations in favor of attacking Iraq included fabricated dialogue from supposedly wiretapped conversations and numerous claims that his own staff had warned him would not even seem plausible?

130.       What war's aftermath gave birth to a new al Qaeda spin-off called ISIS or ISIL or Islamic State or Daesh?

131.       Where did ISIS get most of its weapons?

132.       What have been top sources of ISIS funding?

133.       What did ISIS ask the U.S. to do in order to boost its recruiting?

134.       Did the U.S. do it?

135.       Did it boost ISIS recruiting?

136.       Did the U.S. drone war on Yemen replace a worse form of war or help create one?

137.       Who supplied Saudi Arabia with its weapons for its 2015 war on Yemen?

138.       Does the U.S. know the names of most of the people it targets with missiles from drones?

139.       Does the U.S. target with drones only people it cannot arrest and put on trial?

140.       Name three former top U.S. officials who have warned that drone wars produce more enemies than they kill.

141.       Name three current or former top U.S. officials who maintain that every nation must have equal and identical rights in the use of drones.

142.       Which nations did former NATO commander Wesley Clark say the Pentagon wanted to overthrow in 2003, and which nations did former Prime Minister of the U.K. Tony Blair say that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney wanted to overthrow at the same time? What has happened to those nations?

143.       In which nations of the world do the highest percentages of people say they would go to war for their nation?

144.       In which nations of the world are the highest percentages of the people religious?

145.       What percentage of human beings who have ever lived, and of human societies that have ever existed, have experienced or participated in war?

146.       In which nations of the world are children regularly told to pledge allegiance to a flag?

147.       If you read that peace activists many years before your birth helped to end a war or halt the production of a weapon, would a good teacher expect you to write about that activism in the first person, using the word "we"?

148.       If you read about the United States invading a Central American nation before your birth, would a good teacher allow you to write about it in the first person, using the word "we"?

149.       Which nations of the world have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child? Why haven't they?

150.       Which major military nations have not joined the International Criminal Court, or the treaties banning land mines, cluster bombs, racial discrimination, discrimination against women, or weapons in space, or those establishing rights of migrant workers, regulating the arms trade, providing protection from disappearances, defending the rights of people with disabilities, or the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

151.       Which nation has used the power of its veto at the United Nations most frequently and for what purpose?

152.       How many people were killed or driven out of their homes during the 1948 creation of Israel?

153.       Who was the last president to propose abolishing the CIA?

154.       What president created the CIA and came to regret it?

155.       What was the Safari Club?

156.       Which article of the U.S. Constitution sanctions secret agencies?

157.       How does war preparation and weapons testing benefit human and environmental health?

158.       Have more U.S. citizens been killed by working on nuclear weapons, fighting in wars, being victimized by foreign terrorists, or by domestic gun violence, or smoking cigarettes? What are the numbers?

159.       How many U.S. wars has the U.S. Institute for Peace opposed since its creation?

160.       What do the people of Diego Garcia, Koho'alawe, the Aleutian Islands, Bikini Atoll, Kwajalein Atoll, Culebra, Vieques, Okinawa, Thule, the Aetas, the Cherokee, and most native peoples of the United States have in common?

161.       What percentage of U.S. wars are marketed as promoting freedom?

162.       During what percentage of U.S. wars are civil liberties in the United States curtailed?

163.       How many average Europeans, Asians, Africans, or Latin Americans would it take to damage the natural environment as much as the average person in the United States?

164.       What single institution creates the most environmental destruction?

165.       How did women in the United States and around the world vote themselves the right to vote?

166.       What did it take to win children's rights in the United States?

167.       What is the Vietnam Syndrome?

168.       What were the most successful tactics of the Civil Rights movement?

169.       How many corporations control most major U.S. media outlets?

170.       How was Apartheid officially ended in South Africa?

171.       What happened on Rosenstrasse?

172.       Which have succeeded more often and with longer lasting successes in struggles against tyranny during the past 100 years, violent or nonviolent revolutions?

173.       Who were the Wobblies?

174.       What was the Prague Spring?

175.       Who was A.J. Muste?

176.       What percentage of prisoners ever kept in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo had been convicted of terrorism?

177.       What three interlocking evils did Martin Luther King Jr. say needed to be ended?

178.       When did the people of Hawaii vote to join the United States?

179.       Why did the United States bomb West Virginia?

180.       Why did the United States drop nuclear bombs on North Carolina?

181.       Why did the British end the occupation of India?

182.       Who was Abdul Ghaffar Khan?

183.       When was the damage from Agent Orange finally cleaned up in Vietnam?

184.       How did Norwegian teachers have to teach under Nazi occupation?

185.       Which nations resisted Nazi orders to kill Jews most successfully?

186.       Why did duelling end?

187.       Why did Marcos' rule of the Philippines end?

188.       Who kidnapped the President of Haiti in 2004?

189.       Who was Claudette Colvin?

190.       What was the income tax created to pay for?

191.       How did the United States prevent the Three Mile Island accident from killing anyone?

192.       Did more U.S. troops die in Vietnam or from suicide after returning home?

193.       What is the leading cause of death for U.S. troops sent to U.S. wars in recent years?

194.       Why did Congresswoman Barbara Lee say she was voting against the Global War on Terrorism in 2001?

195.       Who did the U.S. attack with chemical weapons in 1932?

196.       How did a ban on war get into the Japanese Constitution and who has been trying to remove it ever since?

197.       Who assassinated the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi in 1994?

198.       Who killed Paul Robeson, Ernest Hemingway, and John Wayne?

199.       How do U.S. gun laws reduce gun violence better than Australia's?

200.       Who overthrew the government of Honduras in 2009?

201.       How many people were killed in the recent Russian military invasion of Ukraine?

202.       Why do the people of Okinawa so strongly support the presence of U.S. military bases on their island?

203.       What was the anti-imperialist league?

204.       What was the outlawry movement?

205.       What law was General Custer enforcing when he died?

206.       Who urged all scientists to refuse any military work in 1931?

207.       Who was Garry Davis?

208.       Who was Jane Addams?

209.       What was the New England Non-Resistance Society?

210.       What ended friendly relations between Eisenhower and Khrushchev?

211.       When did Armistice Day become Veterans Day and why?

212.       What was the Iran-Contra scandal?

213.       What is the Kellogg-Briand Pact?

214.       Which recent wars have complied with the Kellogg-Briand Pact?

215.       Which recent wars have complied with the United Nations Charter?

216.       Which recent wars have complied with the separation of powers stipulated in the U.S. Constitution?

217.       If the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed the state of Florida to count all its votes in 2000, who would have become president of the United States in 2001?

218.       What thwarted efforts by the African Union to negotiate peace in Libya in 2011?

219.       Who proposed a peace process for Syria in 2012 that would have included a change of government?

220.       Who dismissed it out of hand?

221.       What did the U.S. military / White House plan for Syria in 2013 before being blocked by public, international, and Congressional pressure?

222.       When the CIA produced a report in 2013 on past successes of arming local proxy armies, what was missing from the report?

223.       Which nations still use the death penalty?

224.       In how many nations in history have the majority of rape victims been male?

225.       How many unarmed people do U.S. police kill each year?

226.       Which stages of the criminal justice process in the United States are racially biased?

227.       How much wealth do the average white, black, and Latino households have in the U.S.?

228.       What percentage of U.S. military spending could end starvation on earth?

229.       What percentage could provide the world with clean drinking water?

230.       What percentage could double U.S. investment in clean energy?

231.       Is clean coal clean?

232.       Is natural gas natural?

233.       Is safe nuclear power safe?

234.       Which nations are getting the highest percentage of their energy from sustainable sources?

235.       Which nation did people in the most countries around the world view as the greatest threat to peace on earth in a 2013 Gallup poll?

236.       Is terrorism among the top 100 causes of death in the United States?

237.       What are 10 of them?

238.       Does domestic terrorism in the United States kill more or fewer people than foreign terrorism?

239.       What percentage of foreign terrorists in the United States provide a clear explanation of their motives?

240.       What do they say?

 

Click here for the answers only after trying to answer the questions to the best of your ability.

 

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. The updated second edition of that book will be published April 5, 2016, by Just World Books. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

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