Talk Nation Radio: Paul Findley, 93, Key Author of the War Powers Resolution on How It Might Be Complied With

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-paul-findley-93-key-author-of-the-war-powers-resolution

Paul Findley served as a Republican member of United States House of Representatives from Illinois for 22 years. He was a key author of the War Powers Resolution and a leader in securing its enactment by overriding the veto of President Richard Nixon. The federal building in Springfield, Ill. is named for him. He discusses the legality, or lack thereof, of recent wars and proposals for wars, including in Syria and Iraq.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Celebrating Independence from America in England

By David Swanson
Remarks at Independence from America event outside Menwith Hill "RFA" (NSA) base in Yorkshire.

First of all, thank you to Lindis Percy and everyone else involved in bringing me here, and letting me bring my son Wesley along.

And thank you to the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. I know you share my view that accountability of American bases would lead to elimination of American bases.

And thank you to Lindis for sending me her accounts of refusing to be arrested unless the police disarmed themselves.  In the United States, refusing any sort of direction from a police officer will get you charged with the crime of refusing a lawful order, even when the order is unlawful. In fact, that's often the only charge levied against people ordered to cease protests and demonstrations that in theory are completely legal.  And, of course, telling a U.S. police officer to disarm could quite easily get you locked up for insanity if it didn't get you shot.

Can I just say how wonderful it is to be outside of the United States on the Fourth of July?  There are many wonderful and beautiful things in the United States, including my family and friends, including thousands of truly dedicated peace activists, including people bravely going to prison to protest the murders by drone of others they've never met in distant lands whose loved ones will probably never hear about the sacrifices protesters are making.  (Did you know the commander of a military base in New York State has court orders of protection to keep specific nonviolent peace activists away from his base to ensure his physical safety -- or is it his peace of mind?)  And, of course, millions of Americans who tolerate or celebrate wars or climate destruction are wonderful and even heroic in their families and neighborhoods and towns -- and that's valuable too.

I've been cheering during U.S. World Cup games.  But I cheer for neighborhood, city, and regional teams too.  And I don't talk about the teams as if I'm them.  I don't say "We scored!" as I sit in a chair opening a beer.  And I don't say "We won!" when the U.S. military destroys a nation, kills huge numbers of people, poisons the earth, water, and air, creates new enemies, wastes trillions of dollars, and passes its old weapons to the local police who restrict our rights in the name of wars fought in the name of freedom.  I don't say "We lost!" either. We who resist have a responsibility to resist harder, but not to identify with the killers, and certainly not to imagine that the men, women, children, and infants being murdered by the hundreds of thousands constitute an opposing team wearing a different uniform, a team whose defeat by hellfire missile I should cheer for. 

Identifying with my street or my town or my continent doesn't lead the same places that identifying with the military-plus-some-minor-side-services that calls itself my national government leads.  And it's very hard to identify with my street; I have such little control over what my neighbors do.  And I can't manage to identify with my state because I've never even seen most of it.  So, once I start identifying abstractly with people I don't know, I see no sensible argument for stopping anywhere short of identifying with everybody, rather than leaving out 95% and identifying with the United States, or leaving out 90% and identifying with the so-called "International Community" that cooperates with U.S. wars.  Why not just identify with all humans everywhere? On those rare occasions when we learn the personal stories of distant or disparaged people, we're supposed to remark, "Wow, that really humanizes them!" Well, I'd like to know, what were they before those details made them humanized?  

In the U.S. there are U.S. flags everywhere all the time now, and there's a military holiday for every day of the year.  But the Fourth of July is the highest holiday of holy nationalism.  More than any other day, you're likely to see children being taught to pledge allegiance to a flag, regurgitating a psalm to obedience like little fascist robots.  You're more likely to hear the U.S. national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.  Who knows which war the words of that song come from? 

That's right, the War of Canadian Liberation, in which the United States tried to liberate Canadians (not for the first or last time) who welcomed them much as the Iraqis would later do, and the British burned Washington.  Also known as the War of 1812, the bicentennial was celebrated in the U.S. two years ago.  During that war, which killed thousands of Americans and Brits, mostly through disease, during one pointless bloody battle among others, plenty of people died, but a flag survived.  And so we celebrate the survival of that flag by singing about the land of the free that imprisons more people than anywhere else on earth and the home of the brave that strip-searches airplane passengers and launches wars if three Muslims shout "boo!"

Did you know the U.S. flag was recalled? You know how a car will be recalled by the manufacturer if the brakes don't work? A satirical paper called the Onion reported that the U.S. flag had been recalled after resulting in 143 million deaths.  Better late than never.

There are many wonderful and rapidly improving elements in U.S. culture.  It has become widely and increasingly unacceptable to be bigoted or prejudiced against people, at least nearby people, because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, and other factors.  It still goes on, of course, but it's frowned upon.  I had a conversation last year with a man sitting in the shadow of a carving of confederate generals on a spot that used to be sacred to the Ku Klux Klan, and I realized that he would never, even if he thought it, say something racist about blacks in the United States to a stranger he'd just met.  And then he told me he'd like to see the entire Middle East wiped out with nuclear bombs. 

We've had comedians' and columnists' careers ended over racist or sexist remarks, but weapons CEOs joke on the radio about wanting big new occupations of certain countries, and nobody blinks.  We have antiwar groups that push for celebration of the military on  Memorial Day and other days like this one.  We have so-called progressive politicians who describe the military as a jobs program, even though it actually produces fewer jobs per dollar than education or energy or infrastructure or never taxing those dollars at all.  We have peace groups that argue against wars on the grounds that the military needs to be kept ready for other, possibly more important wars.  We have peace groups that oppose military waste, when the alternative of military efficiency is not what's needed.  We have libertarians who oppose wars because they cost money, exactly as they oppose schools or parks.  We have humanitarian warriors who argue for wars because of their compassion for the people they want bombed.  We have peace groups that side with the libertarians and urge selfishness, arguing for schools at home instead of bombs for Syrians, without explaining that we could give actual aid to Syrians and ourselves for a fraction of the cost of the bombs. 

We have liberal lawyers who say they can't tell whether blowing children up with drones is legal or not, because President Obama has a secret memo (now only partially secret) in which he legalizes it by making it part of a war, and they haven't seen the memo, and as a matter of principle they, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, ignore the U.N. Charter, the Kellogg Briand Pact, and the illegality of war.  We have people arguing that bombing Iraq is now a good thing because it finally gets the U.S. and Iran talking to each other.  We have steadfast refusals to mention a half-million to a million-and-a-half Iraqis based on the belief that Americans can only possibly care about 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq.  We have earnest crusades to turn the U.S. military into a force for good, and the inevitable demand of those who begin to turn against war, that the United States must lead the way to peace -- when of course the world would be thrilled if it just brought up the rear.

And yet, we also have tremendous progress.  A hundred years ago Americans were listening to snappy tunes about how hunting Huns was a fun game to play, and professors were teaching that war builds national character.  Now war has to be sold as necessary and humanitarian because nobody believes it's fun or good for you anymore.  Polls in the United States put support for possible new wars below 20 percent and sometimes below 10 percent.  After the House of Commons over here said No to missile strikes on Syria, Congress listened to an enormous public uproar in the U.S. and said No as well.  In February, public pressure led to Congress backing off a new sanctions bill on Iran that became widely understood as a step toward war rather than away from it.  A new war on Iraq is having to be sold and developed slowly in the face of huge public resistance that has even resulted in some prominent advocates of war in 2003 recently recanting. 

This shift in attitude toward wars is largely the result of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and the exposure of the lies and horrors involved.  We shouldn't underestimate this trend or imagine that it's unique to the question of Syria or Ukraine.  People are turning against war.  For some it may be all about the money.  For others it may be a question of which political party owns the White House.  The Washington Post has a poll showing that almost nobody in the U.S. can find Ukraine on a map, and those who place it furthest from where it really lies are most likely to want a U.S. war there, including those who place it in the United States.  One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.  Yet the larger trend is this: from geniuses right down to morons, we are, most of us, turning against war.  The Americans who want Ukraine attacked are fewer than those believing in ghosts, U.F.O.s, or the benefits of climate change.

Now, the question is whether we can shake off the idea that after hundreds of bad wars there just might be a good one around the corner.  To do that we have to recognize that wars and militaries make us less safe, not safer.  We have to understand that Iraqis aren't ungrateful because they're stupid but because the U.S. and allies destroyed their home. 

We can pile even more weight on the argument for ending the institution of war.  These U.S. spy bases are used for targeting missiles but also for spying on governments and companies and activists.  And what justifies the secrecy?  What allows treating everyone as an enemy?  Well, one necessary component is the concept of an enemy.  Without wars nations lose enemies.  Without enemies, nations lose excuses to abuse people.  Britain was the first enemy manufactured by the would-be rulers of the United States on July 4, 1776.  And yet King George's abuses don't measure up to the abuses our governments now engage in, justified by their traditions of war making and enabled by the sort of technologies housed here.

War is our worst destroyer of the natural environment, the worst generator of human rights abuses, a leading cause of death and creator of refugee crises.  It swallows some $2 trillion a year globally, while tens of billions could alleviate incredible suffering, and hundreds of billions could pay for a massive shift to renewable energies that might help protect us from an actual danger. 

What we need now is a movement of education and lobbying and nonviolent resistance that doesn't try to civilize war but to take steps in the direction of abolishing it -- which begins by realizing that we can abolish it.  If we can stop missiles into Syria, there's no magical force that prevents our stopping missiles into every other country.  War is not a primal urge of nations that must burst out a little later if once suppressed.  Nations aren't real like that.  War is a decision made by people, and one that we can make utterly unacceptable.

People in dozens of countries are now working on a campaign for the elimination of all war called World Beyond War.  Please check out WorldBeyondWar.org or talk to me about getting involved.  Our goal is to bring many more people and organizations into a movement not aimed at a specific war proposal from a specific government, but at the entire institution of war everywhere.  We'll have to work globally to do this.  We'll have to throw our support behind the work being done by groups like the Campaign for Accountability of American Bases and the Movement for the Abolition of War and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Veterans For Peace and so many more.

Some friends of ours in Afghanistan, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, have proposed that everyone living under the same blue sky who wants to move the world beyond war wear a sky blue scarf.  You can make your own or find them at TheBlueScarf.org.  I hope by wearing this to communicate my sense of connection to those back in the United States working for actual freedom and bravery, and my same sense of connection to those in the rest of the world who have had enough of war. Happy Fourth of July!

Pay No Attention to the Apocalypse Behind the Curtain

By David Swanson, Remarks in London, England, July 2, 2014.

Thank you to Bruce Kent and the Movement for the Abolition of War and to Veterans For Peace and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Thank you to the Stop the War Coalition and everyone else for helping spread the word.

In 8 days, on July 10th Mary Ann Grady-Flores, a grandmother from Ithaca, NY, is scheduled to be sentenced to up to one year in prison.  Her crime is violating an order of protection, which is a legal tool to protect a particular person from the violence of another particular person.  In this case, the commander of Hancock Air Base has been legally protected from dedicated nonviolent protesters, despite the protection of commanding his own military base, and despite the protesters having no idea who the guy is.  That's how badly the people in charge of the flying killer robots we call drones want to avoid any questioning of their activity entering the minds of the drone pilots.

Last Thursday a place in the U.S. called the Stimson Center released a report on the new U.S. habit of murdering people with missiles from drones.  The Stimson Center is named for Henry Stimson, the U.S. Secretary of War who, prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor wrote in his diary, following a meeting with President Roosevelt: "The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. It was a difficult proposition." (Four months earlier, Churchill had told his cabinet at 10 Downing Street that U.S. policy toward Japan consisted of this: "Everything was to be done to force an incident.")  This was the same Henry Stimson who later forbid dropping the first nuclear bomb on Kyoto, because he'd once been to Kyoto. He'd never visited Hiroshima, much to the misfortune of the people of Hiroshima.

I know there's a big celebration of World War I going on over here (as well as big resistance to it), but in the United States there's been an ongoing celebration of World War II for 70 years. In fact, one might even suggest that World War II has continued in a certain way and on a lesser scale for 70 years (and on a greater scale in particular times and places like Korea and Vietnam and Iraq).  The United States has never returned to pre-World War II levels of taxes or military spending, never left Japan or Germany, has engaged in some 200 military actions abroad during the so-called post-war era, has never stopped expanding its military presence abroad, and now has troops permanently stationed in almost every country on earth.  Two exceptions, Iran and Syria, are regularly threatened.

So it is altogether appropriate, I think, that it was the Stimson Center that released this report, by former military officials and military-friendly lawyers, a report that included this rather significant statement: "The increasing use of lethal UAVs may create a slippery slope leading to continual or wider wars." 

At least that sounds significant to me. Continual wars? That's a pretty bad thing, right?

Also last week, the U.S. government made public a memo in which it claims the right to legally murder a U.S. citizen (never mind anybody else) as part of a war that has no limit in time or space.  Call me crazy, but this seems serious.  What if this war goes on long enough to generate significant enemies? 

Last year the United Nations released a report that stated that drones were making war the norm rather than the exception.  Wow.  That could be a problem for a species of creatures who prefer not being bombed, don't you think?  The United Nations, created to rid the world of war, mentions in passing that war is becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Surely the response to such a grave development should be equally significant. 

We've grown habituated, I think, to reading reports that say things like "If we don't leave 80% of known fossil fuels in the ground we're all going to die, and lots of other species with us," and then experts recommend that we use more efficient light bulbs and grow our own tomatoes.  I mean we've become used to the response not remotely fitting the crisis at hand.

Such is the case with the UN, the Stimson Center, and a good crowd of humanitarian law experts, as far as I can tell.

The Stimson Center says of murders by drone, they should be "neither glorified not demonized."  Nor, apparently, should they be stopped.  Instead, the Stimson Center recommends reviews and transparency and robust studies.  I'm willing to bet that if you or I threatened massive continual or widening death and destruction we'd be demonized.  I'm willing to bet the idea of our being glorified wouldn't even come up for consideration.

The United Nations, too, thinks transparency is the answer.  Just let us know whom you're murdering and why. We'll get you the forms to do a monthly report.  As other nations get in on this game we'll compile their reports and create some real international transparency. 

That's some people's idea of progress.

Drones are, of course, not the only way or -- thus far -- the most deadly way the U.S. and its allies wage wars.  But there is this minimal pretense of ethical discussion about drones because drone murders look like murders to a lot of people.  The U.S. president goes through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays, picks whom to murder, and has them and anyone standing too close to them murdered -- although he also often targets people without knowing their name.  Bombing Libya or anywhere else looks less like murder to many people, especially if -- like Stimson in Hiroshima -- they've never been to Libya, and if numerous bombs are all supposedly aimed at one evil person whom the U.S. government has turned against.  So, the United States goes through something like the 2011 war on Libya that has left that nation in such a fine state without it occurring to any military-friendly think tanks that there's an ethical question to be pondered.

How, I wonder, would we talk about drones or bombs or so-called non-combat advisors if we were trying to eliminate war rather than ameliorate it?  Well, I think that if we saw the complete abolition of war as even our very distant goal, we'd talk very differently about every type of war today.  I think we'd stop encouraging the idea that any memo could possibly legalize murder, whether or not we'd seen the memo.  I think we'd reject the human rights groups' position that the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact should be ignored.  Rather than considering the illegality of tactics during a war, we'd object to the illegality of the war itself.  We wouldn't speak positively of the United States and Iran possibly joining hands in friendship if the basis for such a proposed alliance was to be a joint effort to kill Iraqis. 

In the U.S. it's not unusual for peace groups to focus on 4,000 dead Americans and the financial costs of the war on Iraq, and to steadfastly refuse to mention a half-million to a million and a half Iraqis killed, which silence has contributed to most Americans not knowing what happened.  But that's the strategy of opponents of some wars, not opponents of all wars.  Depicting a particular war as costly to the aggressor doesn't move people against war preparations or rid them of the fantasy that there could be a good and just war in the days ahead.

It's common in Washington to argue against military waste, such as weapons that don't work or that the Pentagon didn't even ask Congress for, or to argue against bad wars that leave the military less prepared for other possible wars.  If our project was aimed ultimately at war's elimination, we'd be against military efficiency more than military waste and in favor of an ill-prepared military unable to launch more wars.  We'd also be as focused on keeping young people out of the military and militarism out of school books as we are on preventing a particular batch of missiles from flying.  It's routine to profess loyalty to soldiers while opposing their commanders' policies, but once you've praised soldiers for their supposed service, you've accepted that they must have provided one.  Celebrating World War I resisters, as I know some of you have been doing recently, is the sort of thing that ought to replace honoring war participants.

We may need to not just change our conversation from opposing specific war after specific war to discussing the ending of the whole institution.  We may also need to alter at least subtly every part of the conversation along the way. 

Instead of proposing that veterans in particular have earned our gratitude and should receive healthcare and retirement (which one hears all the time in the U.S.), we may want to propose that all people -- including veterans -- have human rights, and that one of our chief duties is to cease creating any more veterans.

Instead of objecting to troops urinating on corpses, we may want to object to the creation of the corpses.  Instead of trying to eliminate torture and rape and lawless imprisonment from an operation of mass-murder, we may want to focus on the cause. We can't go on putting $2 trillion a year globally, and half of that just in the United States, into getting ready for wars and not expect wars to result. 

With other addictions we're told to go after the biggest dealers of the drug or to go after the demand by the users.  The dealers of the drug of war are those funding the military with our grandchildren's unearned pay and dumping buckets of money into propaganda about Vietnam and World War I.  They know the lies about past wars are even more important than the lies about new wars.  And we know that the institution of war could not survive people learning the truth about it to such an extent that some people begin to act on that knowledge.

U.S. public opinion has moved against wars.  When Parliament and Congress said no to missiles into Syria, public pressure of the past decade played a big role.  The same is true of stopping a horrible bill on Iran in Congress earlier this year, and of resistance to a new war on Iraq.  Congress members are worried about voting for another war like Iraq, whether in Iraq or elsewhere.  Her vote to attack Iraq 12 years ago is the only thing that has kept us thus far from seeing Hillary Clinton in the White House.  People don't want to vote for someone who voted for that.  And, let's get this said early to our dear friends at the Nobel Committee: another peace prize will not help things.  The United States doesn't need another peace prize for a war maker, it needs what Bruce and so many of you have been working on over here: a popular movement for the abolition of war!

A number of peace activists have started up a new effort called World Beyond War at http://WorldBeyondWar.org aimed at bringing more people into peace activism. People and organizations in at least 58 countries so far have signed the Declaration of Peace at WorldBeyondWar.org.  Our hope is that, by bringing more people and groups into the movement, we can strengthen and enlarge, rather than compete against, existing peace organizations.  We hope that we can support the work of groups like the Movement for the Abolition of War, and that we can, as groups and individuals, work globally.

The website at WorldBeyondWar.org is intended to provide educational tools: videos, maps, reports, talking points.  We make the case against the idea that war protects us -- an outrageous idea, given that the nations that engage in the most war face the most hostility as a result.  A poll at the start of this year of people in 65 nations found the U.S. in a huge lead as the nation considered the greatest threat to peace in the world.  U.S. veterans are killing themselves in record numbers, in part over what they've done to Iraq and Afghanistan. Our humanitarian wars are a leading cause of suffering and death for humanity. And so we also refute the idea that war can benefit the people where it is waged.

We also lay out the arguments that war is deeply immoral, a first-cousin of and frequent cause of, not alternative to, genocide; that war destroys our natural environment, that war erodes our civil liberties, and that just transferring a bit of what we spend on war to something useful would make us beloved rather than feared around the world.  One and a half percent of what the world spends on war could be spent to end starvation on earth.  War has taken 200 million lives over the past century, but the good that could be done with the resources dumped into war far outstrips the evil that could be avoided by ending war.  For one thing, if we quickly redirected war's resources we'd have our best shot at doing something to protect the climate of the planet.  That our concept of "defense" doesn't include that illustrates how far we've gone toward accepting the inevitability of what is after all the perfectly avoidable and perfectly horrible and completely indefensible institution of war.

Having accepted war, we try for cheaper wars, better wars, even more one-sided wars, and what do we get?  We get warnings from respectable war supporters that we're beginning to make war the norm and risking continual warfare. 

On the one hand this is a case of unintended consequences to rival those who sought the truth about god's creation and ended up with the guy who's on the money around here, Charles Darwin.  On the other hand it's not unintended at all.  A professor at Stanford University has just put out a book arguing that war is so good for us that we must always keep it going.  That strain of thought courses through the veins of our military funded academia and activism. 

But that kind of thinking is increasingly unpopular, and this may be the moment in which to expose it, denounce it, and crystallize into action the growing popular sentiment against war, and the realization into which we've stumbled that particular wars can be prevented, and if particular wars can be prevented then each and every one of them can be prevented.  I look forward to working on that project, with the urgency it demands, and together with all of you.

I'm Speaking in England This Week and You're Invited

David Swanson from the Coordinating Committee of WorldBeyondWar.org will be visiting London from the United States on July 2nd before heading up to speak in Northern England with CAAB.org.uk on the Fourth of July.  Swanson is an author whose books include: War No More: The Case for Abolition (2013), War Is A Lie (2010), When the World Outlawed War (2011), and The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012). See http://davidswanson.org

LONDON:
July 2, 2014, 8:00 p.m., Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holburn.
David Swanson from WorldBeyondWar.org
Also speaking: Ben Griffin of Veterans For Peace UK (http://veteransforpeace.org.uk) Ben is a former SAS soldier who refused to return to Iraq in 2005. He is now the coordinator of Veterans For Peace UK.
Hosted by London Region Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (http://cnduk.org) Chair: Jim Brann
Organized by Movement for the Abolition of War (http://abolishwar.org.uk)
RSVP to Bruce Kent brucek@uk2.net

NSA MENWITH HILL BASE:
July 4, 2014, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Annual Independence FROM America Demonstration at the main entrance to NSA Menwith Hill HG1 4QZ.

Speakers: Caroline Hughes, David Swanson, Annie Machon
Learn more: http://caab.org.uk

Talk Nation Radio: Ted Glick: We Must Block Exports of Fracked Gas

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ted-glick-we-must-block-exports-of-fracked-gas

On July 13th a rally in Washington D.C. will seek to prevent the opening of a first U.S. facility to export gas from fracking.  See http://StopGasExports.org  We speak with one of the organizers of the rally, Ted Glick.

Ted Glick has devoted 46 years of his life to the progressive social change movement. He was active in the peace movement against the Vietnam war, was a founder and national coordinator of the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon and has been actively involved in progressive coalition-building and independent politics efforts since 1975. Since 2003 he has played a leadership role in the effort to stabilize our climate and for a clean energy revolution. He was a founder in early 2004 of the Climate Crisis Coalition, and he is currently  the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. For three and a half months in the fall of 2007 he ate no solid food as part of a climate emergency fast focused on getting Congress to pass strong climate legislation. Over the course of his activist career, he has been arrested 17 times for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, including five times between October, 2006 and  May 2010 on climate issues. Since 2000, he has been writing Future Hope, a nationally-circulated column of political and social commentary , accessible at http://tedglick.com

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Audio on Afghanistan and Iraq on the Coy Barefoot Show

GUEST: David Swanson, author, activist, and blogger. His books includes Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union and War is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War. Follow him on Twitter.

TOPIC: David reacts to the news that Bowe Bergdahl has been released— and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Friday, June 6, 2014.

Listen.

Mapping Militarism

World Beyond War has created a set of online interactive maps to help us all see where and how war and preparations for war exist in the world today.  You can find the maps we’ve created thus far at http://bit.ly/mappingmilitarism and send us your ideas for more maps here.  We’ll be updating some of these maps with new data every year and displaying animation of the progress away from war or the regress toward more war as the case may be.

The following are still screen-shots of some of the maps available in interactive form at the link above.

spending

This map displays annual spending on war and war preparations. When you view the interactive version, the key at the bottom left is adjustable. Here the darkest color is set to $200 billion. You can raise or lower it. Or you can click on one of the colored squares and change the colors if you don’t like blue.  When you run the cursor over one of the countries on the interactive version it will give you details. You can also choose to see the same data as a graph without the map by clicking the full-screen symbol on the graph at the top of the page. Then you’ll see this:

spendinggraph

At the moment, the nation “United States” has been clicked on. The bar for the United States is noticably larger than for the other nations. It would be about twice as high if all U.S. military spending were included. But then at least some of the other nations’ would be higher as well. The data used here for the comparison across nations comes from a report called “The Military Balance” by IISS. By comparing, as well as possible, absolute spending dollars, it becomes clear that the U.S. military dwarfs all others. Maps and charts that show military spending as a percentage of GDP (of a nation’s economy) have their own use, but they seem to imply that if a government has more money if can buy more weapons without becoming more militaristic, that in fact it will become less militaristic if it does not buy more weapons.

Another way to look at spending on war and war preparations by national governments is as a per-capita figure. Perhaps nations with more people can make an argument in defense of more spending. Here’s a screenshot of that map:

percapita

The above map of military spending per capita has something in common with the basic spending map: The United States is still the darkest color. But China’s not a (very) distant second-place anymore. And the U.S. isn’t in first place anymore. It’s been edged out by Israel and Oman. And trailing right behind it are Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Kuwait, and the land of the Nobel Peace Prize: Norway, followed by Australia and the United (for the moment anyway) Kingdom.

Countries don’t just spend money on their own militaries. They also sell and give weapons to other countries. We’ve included a couple of maps displaying those nations that make the most weapons transfers to others. Here’s one, using data from the Congressional Research Service:

transfers

This just seems to be the United States’ night at the Oscars. But here the distant runners up are Russia, France, Germany, Italy, China, and the U.K. This gives us a different view of the weapons industries in these countries. They aren’t just arming their own governments. And they aren’t just arming wealthy allies either. Here’s a look at who’s arming poor nations:

poor

We decided it was worth a particular look at where all the U.S.-made weapons are being shipped to. Here’s that map (all nations colored the same if they received any major weapons systems from the United States in 2012). Click it to go to the interactive versions:

received

We’ve also included at http://bit.ly/mappingmilitarism maps showing who has how many nuclear weapons and who has biological and chemical weapons. They might surprise you.

There are also maps of which nations have troops right now in Afghanistan, which nations are experiencing wars at the moment, and which nations have recently been hit with missiles (most of them from drones).

Because the United States does things that other nations do not, there are a number of U.S.-specific maps. For example: Here are nations with U.S. troops permanently stationed in them. The interactive version will give you the details. The data is from the U.S. military:

ustroops

The above does not include special forces or the CIA or drone strikes. The few gray nations without U.S. troops permanently in them stand out, including Iran and Syria. Should Greenland be worried?

We’ve also included a map of U.S. military actions since 1945. It has quite a bit of color on it.

And we’ve included a series of maps indicating some level of national interest in replacing war with the rule of law. While the International Criminal Court is seriously flawed, it might be improved by greater membership, particularly by major war makers. Here is which countries are now members:

iccAlso available is a map of which nations are party to the long-forgotten treaty that bans war, known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact. That membership ought to be very surprising. There’s also a map of which nations have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the horrendously awful and murderous cluster bombs, a.k.a. flying landmines.

See if you find these maps useful, and let us know what you think is missing.

If you find projects like this one useful, please support them here.