Blogs

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.

Apr
05

Un-Trump the Budget

Tag: Public Budgets

Check out below the list of people who have come together on this!

Add your name.

Our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent. We need to transform our economy, our politics, our policies and our priorities to reflect that reality. That means reversing the flow of our tax dollars, away from war and militarism, and towards funding human and environmental needs, and demanding support for that reversal from all our political leaders at the local, state and national levels.

We and the movements we are part of face multiple crises. Military and climate wars are destroying lives and environments, threatening the planet and creating enormous flows of desperate refugees. Violent racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and other hatreds are rising, encouraged by the most powerful voices in Washington DC.

President Trump plans to strip $54 billion from human and environmental spending so as to increase already massive spending on the military. The plan raises Pentagon spending to well over 60 cents of every discretionary dollar in the U.S. budget — even as Trump himself admits that enormous military spending has left the Middle East “far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago.” The wars have not made any of us safer.

Apr
03

U.S. Out of Korea

Tag: Peace and War

My biggest concern is not the embarrassment of a U.S. public afraid of the tiny impoverished nation of North Korea. If that embarrassed me, how would I survive what U.S. culture makes of ISIS, or -- for that matter -- the election of Donald Trump? My biggest concern is that U.S. war profiteers may end up using Korea to get us all killed.

The United States bombed the living hell out of North Korea, and -- in hopes that nothing would survive -- dropped diseased insects on the place, hoping to start plagues. One bit of later collateral damage was the release of Lyme disease in Lyme, but Hollywood came out of it with the concepts of brainwashing and Manchurian candidates, so some might call it a fair trade.

The United States has thus far refused to ever end the war, sign a peace, or allow reconciliation. Southern and Northern efforts toward peace have been thwarted. Northern proposals (echoed by China) to halt nuclear testing if the U.S. will halt the "exercises" in which it practices for the nuclear bombing of the North have been mocked and scorned. North Korea has committed to no first use, as has China. The U.S. has proposed first use and made plans for it, while heavily militarizing South Korea, building a new base on Jeju Island, sending armed drones to the border, and installing THAAD.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), is part of what the United States calls "missile defense" and much of the world thinks of as missile offense. The U.S. calls it a (highly profitable) tool to protect South Korea from the attack that the North is not threatening. China sees it as part of U.S. efforts to encircle China and to be prepared to strike first and to minimize the Chinese response.

Giving not a rat's rear what China or North Korea or even South Korea has to say, distracted by its efforts to stir up World War III with Russia, and obsessed with prolonging its numerous wars in the Middle East and Africa, the United States simply pushes ahead.

On Wednesday, April 5, a group of South Koreans plans to demonstrate against the current course in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. One of them, Rea-kyung Lee, Chairman of the board of the Tomorrow Association, provided me with a statement that I paraphrase thus:

"The Korean people will be closely watching how U.S. President Trump and the Chinese National Chairman Xi Jin Ping deal with the deployment of THAAD onto the Korean Peninsula when they meet in the United States on April 6 and 7.

"The United States is unilaterally imposing THAAD deployment without any normal and proper agreement with South Korea. The former Korean president who initiated the process has recently been impeached for corruption. A new election is planned for early May. Meanwhile, China is imposing sanctions on South Korea in retaliation.

"The United States must halt THAAD deployment. China must end sanctions.

"The democratic citizens of South Korea have ousted a corrupt president using peaceful, non-violent candlelight demonstrations. The hurdles still faced are long-standing. Following the period of Japanese imperialism, the Korean people desired to establish an independent and unified nation, but were frustrated by the U.S.-Soviet military occupations of the peninsula, and the war between the United States and China.

"The residents of the Korean peninsula have been being forced to undergo the tragic status of national division, while constantly experiencing daily life under the threat of war for more than 70 years. The U.S. and China, in fighting for supremacy over the Korean peninsula, should not repeat such historical crimes."

Two ways to help:

1. Join the demonstration at the White House from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on April 5.

2. Attend the conference and demonstration planned for April 7-9 in Huntsville, Alabama.

Apr
03

Talk Nation Radio: Vijay Prashad on U.S. war making

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-vijay-prashad-on-us-war-making

Vijay Prashad is Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford CT. He is the author of over twenty books, most recently The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. He reports regularly for Frontline and The Hindu (India), BirGün (Turkey) and Alternet (United States). He is the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books (New Delhi). We discuss his recent articles on George W. Bush, Trump, Syria, Iraq, and attacks on U.S. immigrants.

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

World Beyond War

RootsAction.org

War Is A Crime

Talk Nation Radio

There Is No Way To Peace

Peace is the way.

This site is maintained by a union shop at MayFirst.org