davidswanson's blog

Nov
04

The Purpose of Demonizing Putin

Tag: Peace and War

Excerpted from War Is A Lie by David Swanson.

Wars are not fought against flags or ideas, nations or demonized dictators. They are fought against people, 98 percent of whom are resistant to killing, and most of whom had little or nothing to do with bringing on the war. One way to dehumanize those people is to replace all of them with an image of a single monstrous individual.

Marlin Fitzwater, White House press secretary for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, said that war is “easier for people to understand if there’s a face to the enemy.” He gave examples: “Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Milosevic.” Fitzwater might well have included the name Manuel Antonio Noriega. When the first President Bush sought, among other things, to prove he was no “wimp” by attacking Panama in 1989, the most prominent justification was that Panama’s leader was a mean, drug-crazed, weirdo with a pockmarked face who liked to commit adultery. An important article in the very serious New York Times on December 26, 1989, began “The United States military headquarters here, which has portrayed General Manuel Antonio Noriega as an erratic, cocaine-snorting dictator who prays to voodoo gods, announced today that the deposed leader wore red underwear and availed himself of prostitutes.

Nov
03

But How Do You Use Nonviolence Against a Nuke?

Tag: Peace and War

Some of the most misguided questions ever conceived by the human brain take the form of "But how do you use nonviolence against . . . ?"

For example, fill in the blank with ISIS. How do you use nonviolence against ISIS?

Now you're supposed to picture yourself with a knife at your throat trying to resist it nonviolently. Then you're supposed to burst into a fit of laughter.

But how would you resist that knife violently? A superhuman feat of martial arts seems at least as unlikely to work as speaking.

Nov
02

When Charlottesville Was Nuked

Tag: Peace and War

Thirty-seven years ago, the United States Congress commissioned and published a work of fiction, an account of what life in Charlottesville, Virginia, might be like during a nuclear war. It's contained in a longer report called The Effects of Nuclear War which came out in May of 1979. It's widely available online.

I take an interest for 15 pretty solid reasons:

I live in Charlottesville. The world still has enough nuclear weapons with which to destroy itself many times over. We pay a lot less attention to preventing such a disaster now than we did 37 years ago. More nations have nukes now and many more are close to having them. We know more now about the numerous nuclear accidents and misunderstandings that have nearly killed us all over the decades. India and Pakistan are actually at war. The United States and Russia are as close to war as they've been in 98 years. The United States is investing in newer and smaller, "more usable" nukes. This Congressional best case scenario for a U.S. city during a nuclear war is deeply disturbing. We now know that even a limited nuclear war would produce a nuclear winter, preventing the production of crops depicted in this tale. It's not so clear to me that Charlottesville would still rank last on a list of targets for nuclear missiles. It is, after all, home to the Army JAG school, the National Ground Intelligence Center, various weapon makers, a heavily militarized university, and the CIA's underground hideout. The United Nations has just set up negotiations for the coming year of a global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and it's worth trying to understand why. If we survive our possession of nuclear knowledge, we still have climate catastrophe to quickly and miraculously evade or prepare for. The Republican candidate for U.S. president. The Democratic candidate for U.S. president.

So, here are a few excerpts that I encourage you to consider:

Nov
02

Of Veterans and Black Mirror Roaches

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

If you're a fan of the Netflix show Black Mirror, go watch the episode called "Men Against Fire" before reading this. It's the one about war.

In this 60-minute science fiction show, soldiers have been (somehow) programed so that when they look at certain people they see them as freaky monsters with pointed teeth and bizarre faces. These people look frightening and non-human. They are thought of as objects, not as people at all. In reality they are themselves terrified, unarmed, ordinary looking people. And they have a tool with which to protect themselves, a stick with a green light. It doesn't kill or injure. The stick deprograms a soldier so that when he looks at someone he sees them as they really are without the monstrous distortion.

Of course a deprogramed soldier is of no use to the military. In "Men Against Fire" the military offers a deprogramed soldier two choices. He can re-experience on an endless loop a recent reality in which he murdered helpless human beings, but this time experience it while seeing them as human beings instead of as "roaches" (what the military calls the intended victims made to appear monstrous), or he can be reprogramed and get back to the untroubled work of extermination.

Nov
02

What Radio Can Be: Recent Shows from Talk Nation Radio

Tag: Talk Nation Radio

Talk Nation Radio airs for 29 minutes a week on dozens of radio stations and is free to any others that want it. The show is syndicated by Pacifica Network and also available at Soundcloud.com, Archive.org, and TalkNationRadio.org. It can be embedded on any website. If you like what you hear please ask your local stations to air the show and to let me know they are doing so.

Talk Nation Radio is funded by . . . no major funders at all. If you know one, please let me know! In the meantime, please provide the support you can afford here.

Listen to these recent shows for free:

James Marc Leas on Canceling the F-35

Timeka Drew on Protecting Voter Rights

Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein on why they shut down pipelines

Ann Wright on the Women's Boat to Gaza and Being Kidnapped by Israel in International Waters

Samantha Nutt on the Harm of Weapons Dealing and Investment

Benjamin Madley on the California Indian Catastrophe

Reese Erlich and Coleen Rowley on Syria, War, and Peace

Elizabeth Murray and John Kiriakou on Working in a Corrupt Government and Whistleblowing

Christopher Simpson and Kathy Kelly on Media, War, Peace, and Imperialism

Maurice Carney and Harvey Wasserman on Racism, Environmentalism, and Ending War

Pat Alviso and David Hartsough on Acting to End War

Judy Bello on Syria, Gar Alperovitz on Ending War

John Pilger Describes World Perspective on U.S. Politics

Phil Wilayto on Ukraine, Poland, and the Dangers of the New Cold War

Jill Stein on Why You Should Help Make Her President of the United States

Edward Hasbrouck: Extend Selective Service to Women or End it for Men?

Joseph Gerson on NATO's Drive Toward War with Russia

Mel Duncan on why unarmed civilian protection is better than war

Harvey Wasserman on Environmental and Antiwar Activism

Peter Kuznick on Untold Nuclear History and No War 2016

Sandy Davies on Asking World's Help in Resisting U.S. Crimes

Ahmed Salah on Masterminding the Egyptian Revolution

Sam Husseini on Greatness of Katharine Gun, How to Vote, and Hillary v. Muslims

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: U.S. Was Always at War

Meike Capps-Schubert on U.S. Military Resistance in Germany

Jean Trounstine and Karter Reed on Murder, Juvenile Injustice, and Redemption

Peter Enns on How Public Punitiveness Led to Mass Incarceration

John Dear on Catholic Church Rejecting "Just War" Theory

John Hanrahan on Avaaz's Warmongering

Gregory Shupak on the Case Against Bombing ISIS

Margaret Kimberley on Politics, Scams, and Activism

Erin Aubry Kaplan on Loving Obama No Matter What

Paul Engler on THIS IS AN UPRISING

David Cochran on the Abolition of War

Seth Kershner on the Campaign to Demilitarize U.S. Schools

Holly Sterling on the unjust imprisonment of her CIA whistleblower husband

Mary Anne Grady Flores from Jail on Why She Protested Killer Drones

Harvey Wasserman on the Stripping and Flipping of Elections

Dahlia Wasfi on the Past Quarter Century of U.S. Bombing of Iraq

Elliott Adams on third party non-violent intervention in the West Bank

Patrick Hiller on Discoveries Made by Peace Science

Bill Fletcher Jr. on Justice for the People of Western Sahara

Colin Beavan on How to Be Alive

Cynthia McKinney's Real State of the Union

Cian Westmoreland, former U.S. Air Force technician in Afghanistan, speaks against war

William Arkin on the Most Militarized Universities in the United States

Chris Williams on How Paris Set the Earth on a Course to Burn

Jon Schwarz on Secret Unaccountable Government

Nov
01

Talk Nation Radio: James Marc Leas on Canceling the F-35

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-james-marc-leas-on-canceling-the-f-35

James Marc Leas is a founding member of the Stop the F-35 Coalition in Burlington Vermont. He has published some two dozen articles on the F-35 and F-35 basing. To highlight the F-35 issue statewide, he ran for the office of Vermont Adjutant General, the leader of the Vermont National Guard, in 2013, which is elected by the legislature.

Before becoming a patent attorney James was an engineer at IBM, and he holds over 40 patents for his inventions. While an IBM employee he led a vigorous campaign among employees to end IBM sales to South Africa. He also served as a staff physicist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in its Washington, DC office for a year in the aftermath of the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant. He is a graduate of MIT and completed all but the dissertation toward a PhD in physics from the University of Massachusetts. He is a member of the Vermont Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Lawyers Guild.

Sign the petition to cancel the F-35:https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12514

Learn more:http://stopthef35.com

Total run time: 29:00

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

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

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

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

Oct
31

What Keeps the F-35 Alive

Tag: Peace and War

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it'd be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn't safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.

Oct
31

All Governments Lie, The Movie

Tag: Media

Picture, if you will, video footage of vintage (early 2016) Donald Trump buffoonery with the CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves commenting on major media's choice to give Trump vastly more air time than other candidates: "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."

That's the introduction to a powerful critique of the U.S. media. A new film screens in New York and Los Angeles this week called All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone.

The website AllGovernmentsLie.com has screening dates, a list of lies, and a list of good journalists who expose lies. The lists on the website are not identical to the content of the film, but there's a good deal of overlap -- enough to give you a sense of what this project is about.

I'd have made various changes and additions to the film. In particular, I'm tired of all the focus on Iraq 2003. This film touches on war lies since then, but still gives that one particular set of war lies prominence.

Still, this is a film that should be shown in cities, homes, and classrooms across the United States. It includes and is driven by Noam Chomsky's analysis of how the media system is "rigged" without those doing the rigging believing they've done anything at all. It's a survey of skullduggery by corporate media. It's an introduction to numerous journalists far superior to the norm. And it's an introduction to I.F. Stone. It includes footage of a presentation of the annual Izzy Award which goes to journalists acting in Stone's tradition.

Oct
28

Michael Moore Owes Me $4.99

Tag: Book and Movie Reviews, Elections, Media

Michael Moore has made some terrific movies in the past, and Where to Invade Next may be the best of them, but I expected Trumpland to be (1) about Trump, (2) funny, (3) honest, (4) at least relatively free of jokes glorifying mass murder. I was wrong on all counts and would like my $4.99 back, Michael.

Moore's new movie is a film of him doing a stand-up comedy show about how wonderfully awesome Hillary Clinton is -- except that he mentions Trump a bit at the beginning and he's dead serious about Clinton being wonderfully awesome.

This film is a text book illustration of why rational arguments for lesser evilist voting do not work. Lesser evilists become self-delusionists. They identify with their lesser evil candidate and delude themselves into adoring the person. Moore is not pushing the "Elect her and then hold her accountable" stuff. He says we have a responsibility to "support her" and "get behind her," and that if after two years -- yes, TWO YEARS -- she hasn't lived up to a platform he's fantasized for her, well then, never fear, because he, Michael Moore, will run a joke presidential campaign against her for the next two years (this from a guy who backed restricting the length of election campaigns in one of his better works).

Oct
28

Disobey or Die

Back in the winter of 1982, Air Florida flight 90 took off from National Airport. The first officer noticed dangerous readings on some instruments and pointed them out to the captain. The captain told him he was wrong, and he accepted the captain's authority. He did nothing. Thirty seconds later the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge. Everyone on board died except for four passengers rescued out of the icy river.

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