The U.S. National Bird Is Now a Drone

Tag: Book and Movie Reviews, Media, Peace and War

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

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

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


Talk Nation Radio: Timeka Drew on Protecting Voter Rights

Tag: Elections, Political Ideas, Talk Nation Radio

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

For more information, see and     

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Slavery Was Abolished

Tag: Civil Rights, Peace and War, Prison Industry, Race Relations

By David Swanson, World Beyond War

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

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

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

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

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

Tag: Peace and War


This post is also available in: Italian

(Image by Ragesoss, Wikimedia Commons)

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

Nonviolent action can play at least three roles here.

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


Of All the Opinions I've Heard on Syria

Tag: Peace and War

It's all Assad's fault and the U.S., ISIS, al Nusra, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and anybody who will help should overthrow him come what may.

It's all a U.S. crime, and Syria, Russia, and Iran should fix it with bombs.

It's all an ISIS problem that should be solved with U.S. and Russian bombs plus lots more arms for the moderate murderers.

The whole thing is Russia's fault and it should go home or fight an ever more heavily armed collection of moderate, extremist, and ultra-extremist killers.

If people keep killing each other, it's good for U.S. arms sales, and eventually whoever's left will be totally peaceful.

A No-Fly zone would create safety and security by blowing lots of people up and creating a staging area from which to overthrow another government on the admirable model of Iraq and Libya.

If all the foreigners would get the hell out, Syria would be just fine, thank you -- but wait, we didn't mean stop the weapons shipments!

The thing to do is to leave the government of Syria alone but destroy ISIS by arming people against ISIS whose goal is to overthrow the government of Syria.

ISIS must be destroyed by bombing it, because there is a chance that the resulting terror groups will use some name other than "ISIS."

If the United States is going to start a war with Russia it damn well ought to just start a war with Russia and stop dillydallying. They asked for it by being Russia.

Let drones handle it.

What good are 7,000 nuclear bombs if you're never going to use one?


To figure out which of the above views is the correct one, you can follow these simple rules:

1. If you oppose U.S. war making, you are in love with Bashar al Assad and must begin worshiping him every morning.

2. If you oppose Syrian war making, you are in favor of the United States overthrowing Syria and must do whatever Hillary Clinton says.

3. If you oppose Russian war making, you are in favor of ISIS killing your family, and you must turn yourself in at the nearest Republican campaign office.

4. If you oppose regional support for war making in Syria, you are in favor of the United States paying for everything, and you must donate your house to Goldman Sachs.

and most importantly . . .

5. If you oppose arming anybody, bombing anybody, shooting anybody, or slitting anybody's throat, if you want the arms shipments halted, if you want actual aid delivered on a massive scale, if you want withdrawal of foreign forces and the opening of serious negotiations for disarmament and peace, then you have just claimed that every crime committed by anyone in Syria is exactly identical to every other crime committed by anyone else in Syria. As punishment for this absurdity, you must worship Assad while holding hands with Hillary Clinton in a Republican campaign office while leaking Goldman Sachs' emails to Putin.


Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn't

Tag: Peace and War

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

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

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

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



Tag: Elections

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

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

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


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

Tag: Environment, Talk Nation Radio

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

Johnston says:

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

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

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

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


Klapstein says:

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

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

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

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

For more information, see

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at

and at

World Beyond War

War Is A Crime

Talk Nation Radio

There Is No Way To Peace

Peace is the way.

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