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We have a long way to go to end war, and one way is to learn from the model of Kathy Kelly's work. Join me and her in Chicago where Outlawry of War was born.
And make sure you're part of World Beyond War.
Climate change is apparently encouraging the spread of Lyme disease, and a report by NBC News dares to say so. This may seem like a fresh breath of honest sanity in a media context in which even the weather reports usually avoid the topic of human global destruction.
However, another topic is clearly still off limits: the topic of who created Lyme disease.
Who created it is not in any real doubt. The facts have been well reported and never refuted.
The relevance of the disease's creators to this and numerous other news reports about Lyme disease is indisputable. If you're going to report on what's facilitating the disease's spread, you should report on what started it, and how it was intentionally created to spread and why.
That NBC News knows the information is easily shown. In
2005 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory. He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on MSNBC and on NBC's Today Show (where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection). Lab 257 hit the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list soon after its publication.
And what did that book say? Well, the wonderful thing about books is that you can still go and read them. But I'll give you a brief summary of the part about Lyme disease. For a wide array of other diseases, some far worse, you'll have to read the book.
Less than 2 miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.
Deer swim to Plum Island.
I wasn't aware that deer swam at all, but apparently they are ocean swimmers. A quick internet search finds plenty of reports and photos and videos of deer swimming, miles from shore, including in Long Island Sound. And people are often so surprised (and kind hearted) that they rescue the deer -- which may in some cases not actually be needed. Deer frequently swim between Long Island and Plum Island; there's not any dispute about that fact.
Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. "Ticks," Carroll writes, "find baby chicks irresistible."
In July of 1975 a brand new disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. It wasn't a disease that gradually grew and finally attracted attention. It was 12 cases of a disease that, as far as anyone knows, had never been seen before. Scientists' efforts to find it in the past haven't gotten any further than the 1940s in the areas right around Plum Island.
And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors. After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s. Even the indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight. And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.
By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.
Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease -- and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
So, by all means blame ExxonMobil and all the other climate liars, and their servants in government, for the spread of Lyme disease, among other horrors. But save a little blame for the military industrial complex. Either it murdered the victims of Lyme disease, or -- if you believe in the nobility of its mission -- then perhaps we'd better say they are collateral damage.
UPDATE: People have come back to me with claim that 5,000 year old IceMan has Lyme disease, which would mean military found and weaponized it but not exactly created it from nothing. It would not however suggest any origin for the modern outbreak other than Plum Island.
AIPAC's statement on Iran inspires me to make a graphic:
Here's AIPAC's statement:
"AIPAC Statement on Proposed Iran Nuclear Agreement
"AIPAC has consistently supported diplomatic efforts to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program,"
Except when lobbying for ever greater sanctions that would have blocked the negotiations, and even for a US commitment to jump into any Israeli-Iranian war. Here's a brief history in the form of activist opposition to AIPAC.
"and we appreciate the commitment and dedication of President Obama and his administration throughout these negotiations. Unfortunately, this proposed agreement fails to halt Iran’s nuclear quest."
There is no evidence of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon. Gareth Porter makes this clear in his book Manufactured Crisis.
"Instead, it would facilitate rather than prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror."
There is no evidence re the leading state sponsor slur, but let's not get distracted by it. How do tougher inspections than ever faced by any country FACILITATE anything other than Iran's ability to refute slander and libel? The inspections worked in Iraq. Inspections work very well. The only reason anything is missing from these inspections is past US resistance to universal standards that would have required the US to face surprise inspections itself, and U.S. abuse of inspections in Iraq to spy on and seek to overthrow the Iraqi government.
"During these negotiations, we outlined criteria for a good deal that Congress itself had set in five critical areas: inspections, possible military dimensions, sanctions, duration, and dismantlement. In each of these areas, the proposed agreement has significant flaws:
"-The proposed deal does not ensure “anytime, anywhere” short-notice inspections;"
After you, sir. Let Israel and/or the United States submit. Make it standard. Make a public commitment not to overthrow the Iranian government. Again. Then tell Iran to submit to this.
"-The proposed deal does not clearly condition sanctions relief on full Iranian cooperation in satisfying International Atomic Energy Agency concerns over the possible military dimensions of Tehran’s program;
"-The proposed deal lifts sanctions as soon as the agreement commences, rather than gradually as Iran demonstrates sustained adherence to the agreement;
"-The proposed deal lifts key restrictions in as few as eight years;"
Some things take more time, but they all begin right away.
"-The proposed deal would disconnect and store centrifuges in an easily reversible manner, but it requires no dismantlement of centrifuges or any Iranian nuclear facility."
This is a problem in every state with nuclear energy.
"In return for this flawed agreement, Iran will receive over $100 billion in sanctions relief. Tehran will use these funds to fuel its hegemonic ambitions, support the killing of civilians in Syria, fund the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, and spur deadly conflicts throughout the region."
Prove it. Never mind that Israel is murder people in Syria on a retail and wholesale basis, and the U.S. the same. These things are illegal. They haven't proven a sufficient basis to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia or giving them to Israel. They need to be handled but shouldn't be used to wreck this deal.
"This agreement not only fails to achieve its objectives in the nuclear arena, but it releases Tehran in a matter of years—regardless of Iranian behavior—from ballistic missile sanctions and an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This late, unexpected concession will provide additional arms for terrorism and proxy wars, while strengthening Iran’s capabilities against our regional allies."
If Israel and/or the United States were to propose a WMD-free Middle East and/or impose a region-wide arms embargo, I guarantee you Iran would go for it. In the meantime, the kettle may not listen to the pot.
"This accord threatens the future of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. By leaving Iran on the threshold of a nuclear weapon—despite its history of violating international obligations—other countries in the region will have a dangerous incentive to initiate their own nuclear programs. The resulting nuclear arms race would severely destabilize the region."
For godsake, Israel is in blatant violation of the NPT except that it's never even joined it. The US joined it and blatantly violates it. Iran is in compliance, and the inspections regime was intended to accomplish just what this deal accomplishes. Resulting nuclear arms race?! That's the work of the U.S. and Israel and of all the Gulf dictatorships now building nuclear energy.
"Proponents of the proposed agreement will argue that the only alternative to this agreement is military conflict. In fact, the reverse is true. A bad agreement such as this will invite instability and nuclear proliferation. It will embolden Iran and may encourage regional conflict.
"We strongly believe that the alternative to this bad deal is a better deal. Congress should reject this agreement, and urge the administration to work with our allies to maintain economic pressure on Iran while offering to negotiate a better deal that will truly close off all Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon.
"Congress should insist on a better deal."
Demanding a deal you'll never get is how wars have been started through history, including in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, not to mention the demand that Iraq hand over the WMD it didn't have. We're not falling for it again, guys.
A reporter asked me what to ask candidates re military. I suggested:
In the analysis of National Priorities Project military spending is 54% of U.S. federal discretionary spending. In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015. These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now. Is that too high, too low, or just right?
If it's too high, how much money would you move away from it and where would you move that money to?
Eisenhower said military spending would create pressure for more wars, not fewer. Does he not seem to have been right?
In the analysis of a new book by American University professor David Vine, the United States is spending at least $100 billion a year on over 800 bases in 70 nations, not counting permanent ongoing trainings and exercises, even though airplanes now allow the U.S. to get troops anywhere in the world without keeping them permanently stationed abroad. Does the United States have too many, too few, or just the right number of troops and bases abroad?
Should the United States continue to give billions of dollars in free weapons to Israel, Egypt, and other nations?
Candidate Obama said a president could not launch a war without Congress. President Obama has launched a war in Libya, a war in Iraq/Syria, and a number of drone wars without Congress. Who was right, the candidate or the president?
Does a president have the right to murder people with missiles from drones?
There has been little coverage of U.S. aggression in Ukraine: Bush's withdrawl from the ABM treaty, the past decades of NATO expansion, the $5 billion invested in the coup, and unproven accusations against Russia. What in your view has the United States done wrong? Should the United States propose the global elimination of nuclear weapons? Should NATO be disbanded?
Will your administration continue to defend Israel at the United Nations from any legal consequences for its crimes against Palestinians?
For the United States to sit and talk and come to an agreement with a nation it has been antagonizing and demonizing since the dictator it installed in 1953 was overthrown in 1979 is historic and, I hope, precedent setting. Let's seal this deal!
Four months ago the Washington Post published an op-ed headlined 'War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option.' It wasn't. Defenders of war present war as a last resort, but when other options are tried the result is never war. We should carry this lesson over to several other parts of the world.
Talking with Iran has made the war profiteers and their servants sad and the rest of the world happy. Perhaps the novel idea of negotiating rather than killing will be carried over to several other parts of the world. Mainstream corporate voices are even raising the idea of talking with ISIS, or at least talking with the nations of the region ISIS is in about ISIS, or at least ceasing to make the ISIS Crisis worse by ignorantly doing everything wrong -- which just might include making friends with Iran in order to fight ISIS together.
"But what about ISIS?" That has been the endless zombie question encountered by all peace activists ever since the propaganda coup of the videos of two U.S. journalist beheadings. And part of the answer has always been: learn where it came from. Phyllis Bennis's new book can help with that job wonderfully. The book is called Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer. Whether you think you understand ISIS or not, I urge you to pick up a copy, or better a box of copies. This is a small book that should be passed out like a vaccine to residents of the enormous camp of refugees from sanity and historicity that we call the United States of America.
Bennis's book is excellent on what to do, although that topic is found in a handful of pages near the end. The focus, however, is on understanding origins and context. If anything, this is overdone, though it's hard to see what the harm could be in people learning a little too much. The book covers Syria, the Arab Spring, Libya, Iran, the United Nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many other tangentially related topics (I wish she's added a section on the phony reports of ISIS actions in the United States). The book is excellent on the 2013 Syria Missile Crisis and the role that popular resistance played in preventing a massive U.S. bombing campaign in Syria. That, even more so than the successful negotiation with Iran this week, should be our model for future activism.
Bennis relates an excellent history of the Mountain Rescue Excuse and places it in the context of the Imminent-Genocide-in-Benghazi Scam and other past justifications to launch wars that have predictably and immediately veered off into unrelated murderous operations.
But I think the most interesting point in this wide-ranging book may be one that Bennis makes about the Sunni Awakening. You might recall that when the United States began the 2003-2011 destruction of Iraq it quickly dissolved the Iraqi military, dismantled the civil service, and got rid of the Baath Party. Angry, trained, and armed fighters joined the popular resistance to the U.S. occupation. Among the new fighting groups that formed was Al Qaeda in Iraq. In 2006, the Bush administration gave up on the hopeless mission-never-to-be-accomplished of trying to fight these groups, and started buying them off. This was a key part of the success of the "surge" that was itself no success at all. But some of the groups, including AQI refused to be bought off or to cease fighting.
In 2008, the United States turned over to the Iraqi government the job of buying off Sunni groups. The Iraqi government ceased making the payments. And the growth of ISIS, the renamed AQI, was underway. And it was exacerbated by an Iraqi government that shut out Sunnis and attacked Sunnis, while being funded and armed by the U.S. government. People think ISIS came out of nowhere, but many of us were, in the years before ISIS hit the news, struggling to oppose the U.S. provision of weapons to the Iraqi government for use in attacking Iraqis. This is where ISIS and broad support for ISIS among Sunnis came from.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia had told Sir Richard Dearlove of MI6, "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shi'a.' More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them." ISIS funding flows from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, and Qatar, as well as from oil sales and artifact sales and kidnappings and thefts.
When 1,300 ISIS fighters overwhelmed 350,000 Iraqi soldiers and helped themselves to loads of U.S. weaponry, ISIS had the support of Sunni leaders angered by the Iraqi government, and of former Iraqi military leaders thrown out of work by Paul Bremmer -- not to mention benefitting from the chaos and flood of weaponry into Syria, and critically from the lack of enthusiasm for their cause among members of the Iraqi military.
So why do I say the Sunni Awakening is the most interesting point? Because something was working. Making small payments of cash to Sunnis -- sums far smaller than those spent on the weapons and the training (at $4 million per trainee now) to fight them -- was working. What if, instead of ending those payments, they had been continued, or been transformed into a program of nonviolent aid to everyone in the region, accompanied perhaps by a note of apology for having destroyed the place?
Bennis' first recommendation for what to do is an arms embargo. I think if Americans realized that their country was arming the region that their country constantly laments the violence in, the idea of an arms embargo would have overwhelming appeal. Beyond that, Bennis recommends: an inclusive Iraqi government, an end to airstrikes, a withdrawal of U.S. troops, and the use of diplomacy, including possibly talks with ISIS.
Bennis also suggests reversing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project which can make teaching non-violent activism to groups abroad into the crime of "material support for terrorism." And she proposes a massive increase in U.S. aid through U.N. agencies.
Of course, aid has a tendency to make things better and a proven record of working in Iraq. So I assume every other possible approach will be tried first.
NOTE TO THOSE IN WASHINGTON DC AREA:
Come to the book launch party for this book, with its author, on July 27 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Busboys & Poets 5th and K, 1025 5th St NW, Washington, DC.
David Vine is Associate Professor of Anthropology at American University in Washington, DC. David is the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia (Princeton University Press, 2009). His new book, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Overseas Harm America and the World, will be published by Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt in August 2015. Many of David’s articles and information about his books and other work can be found at www.davidvine.net.
A review of Base Nation by David Swanson is here: http://davidswanson.org/node/4825
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If you're like most people in the United States, you have a vague awareness that the U.S. military keeps lots of troops permanently stationed on foreign bases around the world. But have you ever wondered and really investigated to find out how many, and where exactly, and at what cost, and to what purpose, and in terms of what relationship with the host nations?
A wonderfully researched new book, six years in the works, answers these questions in a manner you'll find engaging whether you've ever asked them or not. It's called Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Harm America and the World, by David Vine.
Some 800 bases with hundreds of thousands of troops in some 70 nations, plus all kinds of other "trainers" and "non-permanent" exercises that last indefinitely, maintain an ongoing U.S. military presence around the world for a price tag of at least $100 billion a year.
Why they do this is a harder question to answer.
Even if you think there is some reason to be able to quickly deploy thousands of U.S. troops to any spot on earth, airplanes now make that as easily done from the United States as from Korea or Japan or Germany or Italy.
It costs dramatically more to keep troops in those other countries, and while some base defenders make a case for economic philanthropy, the evidence is that local economies actually benefit little -- and suffer little when a base leaves. Neither does the U.S. economy benefit, of course. Rather, certain privileged contractors benefit, along with those politicians whose campaigns they fund. And if you think military spending is unaccountable at home, you should check out bases abroad where it's none too rare to have security guards employed purely to guard cooks whose sole job is to feed the security guards. The military has a term for any common SNAFU, and the term for this one is "self-licking ice cream."
The bases, in many cases, generate an enormous amount of popular resentment and hatred, serving as motivations for attacks on the bases themselves or elsewhere -- famously including the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Bases around the borders of Russia and China are generating new hostility and arms races, and even proposals by Russia and China to open foreign bases of their own. Currently all non-U.S. foreign bases in the world total no more than 30, with most of those belonging to close U.S. allies, and not a single one of them being in or anywhere near the United States, which would of course be considered an outrage.
Many U.S. bases are hosted by brutal dictatorships. An academic study has identified a strong U.S. tendency to defend dictatorships where the United States has bases. A glance at a newspaper will tell you the same. Crimes in Bahrain are not equal to crimes in Iran. In fact, when brutal and undemocratic governments currently hosting U.S. bases (in, for example, Honduras, Aruba, Curaçao, Mauritania, Liberia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Mozambique, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Georgia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Thailand, Cambodia, or Singapore) are protested, there is a pattern of increased U.S. support for the government, which makes eviction of the U.S. bases all the more likely should the government fall, which fuels a vicious cycle that increases popular resentment of the U.S. government. The U.S. began building new bases in Honduras shortly after the 2009 coup.
Vine also tells a troubling story of the U.S. military's alliance with the Camorra (the mafia) in Naples, Italy, a relationship that has lasted from World War II to the present, and which fueled the rise of the Camorra -- a group reportedly deemed reliable enough by the U.S. military to protect nuclear weapons.
The smaller bases that don't house tens of thousands of troops, but secretive death squads or drones, have a tendency to make wars more likely. The drone war on Yemen that was labeled a success by President Obama last year has helped fuel a larger war.
In fact, I want to quibble with Vine's account of the birth of Base Nation, because I think the facilitation of the worst war ever was involved. Vine gives the history of the U.S. bases in Native American lands, starting in 1785 and very much alive today in the language of U.S. troops abroad in "Indian territory." But then Vine dates the birth of the modern base empire to September 2, 1940, when President Franklin Roosevelt traded Britain old ships in exchange for various Caribbean, Bermudan, and Canadian bases to be used in or after the war he was supposedly not planning on. But I'd like to back the clock up a little.
When FDR visited Pearl Harbor (not actually part of the United States) on July 28, 1934, the Japanese military expressed apprehension. General Kunishiga Tanaka wrote in the Japan Advertiser, objecting to the build-up of the American fleet and the creation of additional bases in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands (also not part of the United States): "Such insolent behavior makes us most suspicious. It makes us think a major disturbance is purposely being encouraged in the Pacific. This is greatly regretted."
Then, in March 1935, Roosevelt bestowed Wake Island on the U.S. Navy and gave Pan Am Airways a permit to build runways on Wake Island, Midway Island, and Guam. Japanese military commanders announced that they were disturbed and viewed these runways as a threat. So did peace activists in the United States. By the next month, Roosevelt had planned war games and maneuvers near the Aleutian Islands and Midway Island. By the following month, peace activists were marching in New York advocating friendship with Japan. Norman Thomas wrote in 1935: "The Man from Mars who saw how men suffered in the last war and how frantically they are preparing for the next war, which they know will be worse, would come to the conclusion that he was looking at the denizens of a lunatic asylum." The Japanese attacked Wake Island four days after attacking Pearl Harbor.
In any case, Vine points to the uniqueness of World War II as a war that has never been ended, even after the Cold War was said to have ended. Why have the troops never come home? Why have they continued to spread their forts into "Indian Territory," until the U.S. has more foreign bases than any other empire in history, even as the era of conquering territory has ended, even as a significant segment of the population has ceased thinking of "Indians" and other foreigners as subhuman beasts without rights worthy of respecting?
One reason, well-documented by Vine, is the same reason that the huge U.S. base at Guantanamo, Cuba, is used to imprison people without trials. By preparing for wars in foreign locations, the U.S. is often able to evade all kinds of legal restrictions -- including on labor and the environment, not to mention prostitution. GIs occupying Germany referred to rape as "liberating a blonde," and the sexual disaster area surrounding U.S. bases has continued to this day, despite the decision in 1945 to start sending families to live with soldiers -- a policy that now includes shipping each soldier's entire worldly possessions including automobiles around the world with them, not to mention providing single-payer healthcare and twice the spending on schooling as the national average back home. Prostitutes serving U.S. bases in South Korea and elsewhere are often virtually slaves. The Philippines, which has had U.S. "help" as long as anyone, provides the most contractor staff for U.S. bases, cooking , cleaning, and everything else -- as well as likely the most prostitutes imported to other countries, like South Korea.
The most isolated and lawless base sites include locations from which the U.S. military evicted the local population. These include bases in Diego Garcia, Greenland, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Marshall Islands, Guam, the Philippines, Okinawa, and South Korea -- with people evicted as recently as 2006 in South Korea.
In hundreds of other sites where the population was not evicted, it might wish it had been. Foreign bases have been environmentally disastrous. Open-air burns, unexploded weaponry, poisons leaked into the ground water -- these are all commonplace. A jet fuel leak at Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., started in 1953 and was discovered in 1999, and was more than twice the size of the Exxon Valdez spill. U.S. bases within the United States have been environmentally devastating, but not on the scale of those in some foreign lands. A plane taking off from Diego Garcia to bomb Afghanistan in 2001 crashed and sank to the bottom of the ocean with some 85 hundred-pound munitions. Even ordinary base life takes a toll; U.S. troops produce over three times the garbage each as local residents in, for example, Okinawa.
Disregard for people and the land and the sea is built into the very idea of foreign bases. The United States would never tolerate another nation's base within its borders, yet imposes them on Okinawans, South Koreans, Italians, Filipinos, Iraqis, and others despite huge protest. Vine took some of his students to meet with an official at the U.S. State Department, Kevin Maher, who explained to them that U.S. bases in Japan were concentrated in Okinawa because it was "the Puerto Rico of Japan" where people have "darker skin," are "shorter," and have an "accent."
Base Nation is a book that should be read -- and its maps seen -- by everyone. I wish Vine did not write "Russia's seizure of Crimea" when referring to a free and open and legal vote, especially in the context of a book about military bases. And I wish he did not only use selfish points of reference in terms of financial tradeoffs. Of course the United States could be transformed for the better with the redirection of military spending, but the United States and the world both could be. It's that much money.
But this book will be an invaluable resource for years to come. It also includes, I should note, an excellent account of some of the resistance struggles that have in some cases shut bases down or scaled them back. It's worth noting that just this week, in the first of two necessary rulings, an Italian court has ruled for the people, against the U.S. Navy's construction of communications equipment in Sicily.
Just this month, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff published "The National Military Strategy of the United States of America -- 2015." It gave as justification for militarism lies about four countries, beginning with Russia, which it accused of "using force to achieve its goals," something the Pentagon would never do! Next it lied that Iran was "pursuing" nuclear weapons, a claim for which there is no evidence. Next it claimed that North Korea's nukes would someday "threaten the U.S. homeland." Finally, it asserted that China was "adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region." This "Strategy" admitted that none of the four nations wanted war with the United States. "Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns," it said.
So, one might add, does each of the U.S. foreign bases. Vine's book ends with some excellent proposals for change, to which I would add only one: Smedley Butler's proposed rule that the U.S. military be forbidden to travel more than 200 miles from the United States.
David Vine is this week's guest on Talk Nation Radio.
Yes, I also want to say Free Mumia. In fact, I want to say Free all the prisoners. Turn the prison holding Mumia Abu-Jamal into a school and make him dean. And if you won't free all the prisoners, free one who has been punished to a level that ought to satisfy any retributive scheme for any crime he might have committed. And if you won't do that, free him because he was put into prison by a fraudulent and corrupt trial that hid as much evidence as it revealed, and fabricated the latter.
More importantly, Read Mumia. His new book is called Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and it includes commentaries by Mumia from 1982 through 2014. Mumia went ahead and made his prison a school -- a school in history, in politics, and in morality. And his own moral teaching is primarily by example. He teaches the liberating lesson that, if you so choose, you can know right now that never ever will anyone be able to beat you down. You can be cheerful for the rest of your life and rest completely assured that nothing can ever take that away.
Why? Because Mumia was shot and beaten within an inch of his life by the police, who then tried to kill him in the hospital with cold air meant to bring death by pneumonia. Then he was framed up and railroaded into a "correctional" institution. Then he was subjected for as long as perhaps anyone alive to the torture of solitary confinement (which drives some to self-mutilation). He was essentially mock-executed twice with dates set for his murder by the state of Pennsylvania. And it's never let up, with a new effort to kill him through denial of medical care this year.
Yet from day-1 in prison to this day, Mumia has been creating written and radio commentaries that go after every injustice in the world, including those committed by the very prison guards who threaten his life. And one cannot find a word of self-pity in any of them. Nor a word of self-indulgence or of narrow focus. From behind bars, Mumia sees the global perspective better than most on the outside. He takes on the war machine as determinedly as poverty and draws the connections between them. With no fear. No bitterness. No paranoia. No despair. No let up. And no lack of love and understanding.
And that's not primarily why you should read Mumia. He's not a great wrongly-imprisoned-black writer. He's a great writer. And if he were free and on book tour, chances are certainly better that you would be reading him. Mumia's commentaries from prison are as informed and more insightful than many from academia. And less compromising -- Compromising being something he takes on effectively with his critiques of what W.E.B. Dubois called the Philadelphia Negro.
If you want a sports score on Mumia's insights, how about a list of accurate predictions?
He predicted the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin.
He predicted Colin Powell's performance long before his U.N. speech: "[A]s he has done all of his professional, military life, the General will follow the orders he's given, even if he is in disagreement with them." —Aug. 30, 2001
He predicted war disasters before the wars. He predicted who George W. Bush and Barack Obama would be prior to Bush's selection and Obama's election (and nailed the theft of Florida for Bush in 2000 before it was completed). Of Obama he said:
"Black faces in high places does not freedom make. Power is more than presence. It is the ability to meet people's political objectives of freedom, independence, and material well-being. We are as far from those objectives as we were in 1967." —Aug. 6, 2008
Mumia got Hillary Clinton right before she was even a senator, never mind before, as president, she started World War III:
"The Democratic senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton, in the aftermath of the Diallo killers' acquittal, issued a statement to the effect that 'police officers should work to understand the community, and the community should understand the risks faced by police officers.' This in the afterglow of a whitewash quasi-prosecution and acquittal of four cops who glocked Diallo to death in his doorway for committing the capital crime of 'standing while black.'--SWB. This in studied political reflection of a case where cops fired 41 shots at an unarmed man!" —March 13, 2000
Mumia answered "Why do they hate us?" on September 17, 2001. He got the Cuban Five right before they were freed. He got Black Lives Matter before leaders of that movement were born. He got Distant Lives Matter too, also right, before that movement was even born, if it ever is.
Mumia even addressed Bill Cosby with appropriate contempt decades before that was cool.
Mumia above all has been a leading voice in helping to end the death penalty, and he has urged on and celebrated each step in that direction.
Mumia knows what is happening better from behind bars than do many on the outside, because he has access to books. He once recorded this radio review of one of my books, which I considered superior to any other review.
Those of us outside of prison have access to books, too, although many seem to forget it. We could all be as well-informed as Mumia. We could all know what's coming next before it hits us in the face. A good place to start would be by reading the Writing on the Wall.