davidswanson's blog

Apr
22

The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope

Tag: Environment, Peace and War

By David SwansonRemarks in Burlington, Vermont, April 22, 2017

Thank you all for inviting me. There is no place I’d rather be on earth day. And that includes marching for science at the March for Science in Washington. Although I certainly support marching for honesty, and I’d even march for the cause of getting more scientists to march — and any other group that hasn’t yet found the time to bother.

Unless resisting madness becomes mainstream, the madmen will decide our fate.

Thank you also for having started the first chapter of World Beyond War and for having given us the idea to have chapters. We now have people working on starting dozens of chapters in over a dozen countries. And we have staff to help them, and we have people in 151 countries who have signed the pledge that I’ll pass around here, pledging to work to end all war. We’re trying to get to 175 countries, because that’s how many the U.S. military admits to having troops in. So, 24 more to go. If you know anybody in Venezuela, Cuba, Honduras, Mongolia, Algeria, Lithuania, Ethiopia, or Papua New Guinea, please point them to WorldBeyondWar.org.

And thank you for having set up such a terrific program of workshops today, and — I hope — of work that will follow the workshops.

I hope my comments fit into the program, because I’m going to take a round about way of speaking in support of peace and environmentalism by praising garbage incinerators.

In the United States a garbage incinerator is mostly used to get rid of vast quantities of stuff nobody ever needed in the first place — not including, I’m sorry to say, presidential twitter accounts.

And a typical U.S. garbage incinerator produces vast quantities of pollution, horrible smells, dioxin, mercury, nitric oxide, lead, and particulate matter. If you live near such an incinerator, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and respiratory problems shoot through the roof.

So, you want to locate such a thing as far as you can get it from any population that puts significant funding into election campaigns.

Apr
21

How U.S. Race Laws Inspired Nazis

Tag: Book and Movie Reviews

James Q. Whitman's new book is called Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law. It is understated and overdocumented, difficult to argue with. No doubt some will try.

In cartoonish U.S. historical understanding, the United States is, was, and ever shall be a force for good, whereas Nazism arose in a distant, isolated land that lacked any connection to other societies. In a cartoonish reversal of that understanding that would make a good strawman for critics of this book, U.S. policies have been identical to Nazism which simply copied them. Obviously this is not the case.

In reality, as we have long known, the U.S. genocide of Native Americans was a source of inspiration in Nazi discussions of expanding to their east, even referring to Ukrainian Jews as "Indians." Camps for Native Americans helped inspire camps for Jews. Anti-Semites and eugenicists and racists in the U.S. helped inspire those in Germany, and vice versa. U.S. bankers invested in the Nazis. U.S. weapons dealers armed them. Nazis borrowed from U.S. propaganda techniques developed in World War I. Admirers in the U.S. of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy attempted at least one coup against President Franklin Roosevelt. The U.S. refused to admit significant numbers of Jewish refugees or to help evacuate them from Germany. The State Department turned down Anne Frank's visa. The coast guard chased a ship of Jews away, sending them back to their fate. Et cetera. We have known all of this.

We have known how the U.S. treated African Americans, Japanese Americans, and others at the time of World War II, how it experimented on Guatemalans even during the trials of Nazis for human experimentation, and continued to allow human experimentation in the U.S. for many years. And so forth. The good versus evil cartoon was never real.

What Whitman's book adds to the complex story is an understanding of U.S. influences on the drafting of Nazi race laws. No, there were no U.S. laws in the 1930s establishing mass murder by poison gas in concentration camps. But neither were the Nazis looking for such laws. Nazis lawyers were looking for models of functioning laws on race, laws that effectively defined race in some way despite the obvious scientific difficulties, laws that restricted immigration, citizenship rights, and inter-racial marriage. In the early 20th century the recognized world leader in such things was the United States.

Apr
18

Talk Nation Radio: Dale Brumfield on the State of Virginia's History of Murder

Tag: Political Ideas, Prison Industry, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-dale-brumfield-on-the-state-of-virginias-history-of-murder

Dale Brumfield is an Adjunct English Professor and the author of seven books. His last two, Richmond Independent Press (2013) and Independent Press in D.C and Virginia: An Underground History (2015) were both nominated for Library of Virginia Literary Awards in nonfiction. Dale is a weekly history columnist for the Staunton News Leader, and is a frequent contributor to Richmond Magazine, Style Weekly and North of the James magazines. His work has also appeared in the Richmond Free Press, Richmond Times-Dispatch and USA Today. His next book, a history of the Virginia Penitentiary, will be published fall, 2017. We discuss the history of state murder in Virginia.

See http://dalebrumfield.net

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

Apr
14

Never-Ending War in the Time of Trump and How to Stop It

Tag: Peace and War

By David Swanson

Remarks in Cambridge, Mass., April 13, 2017

The Mother of All Lies is this: you can fix things by blowing them up. Alcoholics should not drink, and people who cannot watch TV and distinguish it from reality should not watch TV. Donald Trump watches a lot of TV and may very well believe what it teaches, namely that blowing things up solves problems. He certainly has figured out, as I knew he would, that the way to get love from the U.S. corporate media is to blow stuff up.

For many of us who are not believers in myths about good wars and just wars and defensive and humanitarian wars, war may have initially struck us as evil because it so directly does harm. Driving a gas-burning car helps render the earth uninhabitable, but only very slowly and only in combination with larger factors. Building a nuclear power plant risks horrible disaster, but it doesn't intentionally and immediately create it. War, on the other hand, when looked at clearly, consists of mass murder described with other words. It's direct and immediate and fatal and large-scale violence. What could be more evil?

It's ironic, then, that the bulk of the damage that war does, and the vast majority of the deaths it causes are caused indirectly. The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees put out a statement this week that warned of mass starvation in Yemen without mentioning that there is a war there. The Washington Post yesterday published a shockingly honest article that described the famines in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, and noted that they would be unimaginable without the wars in those countries. At least 20 million people are at risk of starving to death there, a number that dwarfs the number killed directly in wars in a given year -- and that is true even using credible numbers, not the super low estimates of which the U.S. media is so fond.

Apr
11

Don't Be a United Airlines Passenger

Tag: Political Ideas

Do not sit still like a United Airlines passenger in a video when an injustice is happening. If the other passengers had simply blocked the aisles, corporate thugs could not have dragged their fellow passenger away. If everyone on board had demanded that the airline offer higher compensation until someone volunteered to take a later flight, rather than being violently "reaccommodated," then it would have done so.

Passivity in the face of injustice is the greatest danger we face. This fact does not mean I'm "blaming the victims." Of course United Airlines should be shamed, sued, boycotted, and compelled to reform or "reaccommodate" itself out of our lives entirely. So should the government that has deregulated the industry. So should every police department that has come to view the public as an enemy in a war.

But one should expect corporations and their thugs to behave barbarically. They are designed to do so. One should expect corrupt governments that lack popular influence or control to abuse power. The question is whether people will sit back and take it, resist with some nonviolent skills, or disastrously resort to violence themselves. (I've not searched yet for proposals to arm airline passengers, because I really don't look forward to reading them.)

The one nonviolent skill that seems to be advancing most encouragingly is videotaping and livestreaming. People have got that down. When police blatantly lie, such as by claiming to have carried a passenger who fell, rather than dragging a passenger whom they assaulted, video sets the record straight. But we often lack video of events far away that the U.S. military blatantly lies about, events locked out of sight that prison guards blatantly lie about, and events that happen over long periods -- such as the willful destruction of the earth's climate.

When it comes to those injustices that can't be videotaped or sued in court, too often people fail to act entirely. This is extremely dangerous behavior. We're collectively being dragged down an airplane aisle, and we're failing to act. A U.S.-Saudi war is threatening millions with starvation in Yemen. In Syria, the U.S. is risking a nuclear confrontation with Russia. The Pentagon is considering attacking North Korea. Baby steps toward slowing down the destruction if the earth's climate are being reversed. Warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment, and presidential drone murder have been normalized.

What can we do?

We can educate and organize. We can confront Congress members while they're home. We can pass local resolutions. We can divest from horrible businesses. We can build global alliances. We can go and stand in the way of deportations, of weapons shipments, or of the broadcasting of corporate "news." We can put a stop to injustice wherever we see it and require diplomatic negotiation and resolution from dying domestic industries and killing foreign service officials alike.

Civil disobedience is not something we should shy away from.

Civil obedience should horrify us. There is an epidemic.

Apr
10

Talk Nation Radio: Dennis Kucinich on Opposing War on Syria

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-dennis-kucinich-on-opposing-war-on-syria

Dennis Kucinich is an internationally renowned champion of diplomacy and peace. His distinguished career in public service dates back to 1969 and spans councilman, clerk of courts, Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio State Senator, 8 term Member of US Congress and 2-time Democratic candidate for President of the United States. We discuss U.S. warmaking in Syria.Seehttp://kucinich.comhttp://facebook.com/denniskucinich

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

Apr
07

Top 10 Lies, Damn Lies, and Lies About Syria

Tag: Peace and War

1. Chemical weapons are worse than other weapons.

This is not the case. Death and dismemberment are horrific regardless of the weapon. No weapon is being used legally, morally, humanely, or practically in Syria or Iraq. U.S. bombs are no less indiscriminate, no less immoral, and no less illegal than chemical weapons -- or for that matter than the depleted uranium weapons with which the United States has been poisoning the area. The fact that a weapon has not been banned does not create a legal right to go into a country and kill people with it.

2. Chemical weapons use justifies the escalated use of other weapons.

Does shoplifting justify looting? If a Hatfield poisoned a McCoy, would another McCoy be justified in shooting a bunch of Hatfields? What barbarism is this? A crime does not sanction another crime. That's a quick trip to hell.

3. Important people we should trust know who used chemical weapons.

No, they do not. At least they do not know that the Syrian government did it. If they knew this, they would offer evidence. As on every past occasion, they have not done so.

4. The enemy is pure evil and will answer only to force.

The U.S. government and its proxies have sabotaged peace negotiations numerous times over the past several years, maintaining that Assad would have to step down or -- preferably -- be overthrown by violence before anything could be negotiated. This does not make the U.S. government pure inhuman evil, much less does it make the Syrian government that.

5. If you don't want to bomb Syria with one enemy's name on your lips, you hold the firm belief that said enemy is actually a saint.

This piece of stupidity gets people accused of loving and holding blameless the Syrian government, the Russian government, the U.S. government, ISIS, and various other parties. In fact, the reasonable thing to do is to hold all killers responsible for their killing because of the crime, not because of who commits it.

6. U.S. war-making in Syria is defensive.

This is the opposite of reality-based thinking as war-making endangers us rather than protects us. Someone should ask Donald Trump to remember the Maine. You may remember that Spain wanted the matter brought to a neutral arbiter, but the United States wanted war, regardless of any evidence. That's been the typical move over the centuries: careful maneuvering into war, not away from it. Trump, by the way, is already up to his bloody elbows in several wars inherited from Obama -- wars no less immoral and illegal slaughters because of their connection to either of those presidents. The question of who blew up the Maine is, at this point a truly dumb one. The important point is that the U.S. didn't want to know, wanted instead to rush into a war before anyone could find out. Typically, the desire to avoid information, and not some other consideration, is the reason for the urgency in war-making.

7. Peace was tried in 2013, and it failed.

No. What happened was that Obama and his administration tried to pull off the same stunt that Trump is trying now, and the public rose up and refused to allow it. So, instead of a massive bombing campaign, Syria got more weapons, more trainers, more troops, and a medium sized bombing campaign. That's very different from actually shifting direction and offering Syria diplomacy, aid, and disarmament.

8. The U.S. government's goal is peace.

The long openly stated goal of powerful players in the U.S. government is to overthrow Assad.

9. Syria is as boring and unconcerning as numerous other ongoing U.S. wars.

In reality, Syria is a war that risks fighting between the United States and Russia, while each is armed with far more than enough nuclear weapons to destroy all life on earth. Creating a profitable conflict between the U.S. and Russia is a likely actual motivation of some hawks on Syria.

10. Making everything worse with yet more violence is the only option left.

That's not an option at all. But these are: aid, reparations, negotiations, disarmament, the rule of law, truth and reconciliation.

World Beyond War

RootsAction.org

War Is A Crime

Talk Nation Radio

There Is No Way To Peace

Peace is the way.

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