Blogs

Jul
19

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

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-edward-hasbrouck-extend-selective-service-to-women-or-end-it-for-men

Edward Hasbrouck is a long-time member of the War Resisters League and maintains one of the most comprehensive websites about "Selective Service," the draft, draft registration, and draft resistance. His website at http://www.resisters.info includes news about the current proposals to expand draft registration to women as well as men, and FAQs about what to do if you don't want to be drafted. Edward was one of 20 people who were prosecuted for organizing resistance to draft registration in the 1980s. He spent 4 1/2 months in a federal prison camp in 1983-1984 before the government gave up trying to enforce the Selective Service law in 1987 in the face of massive noncompliance.Dump draft registration, don’t extend it to women (Op-Ed by Edward Hasbrouck, San Francisco Chronicle, June 4, 2016)https://hasbrouck.org/blog/archives/002261.htmlSupport H.R. 4523 to end draft registrationhttps://hasbrouck.org/draft/HR4523.htmlPetition to the U.S. Congress: Pass the new bill to abolish the military drafthttp://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/pass-the-new-bill-to-abolish-the-military-draftWomen: Do not register for the draft. (by Rivera Sun, PeaceVoice, June 17, 2016)https://hasbrouck.org/draft/women-refuse.htmlGender-Neutral Draft Registration Would Create Millions of Female Felons (U.S. News & World Report, May 3, 2016)http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-03/gender-neutral-draft-registration-would-create-millions-of-female-felons

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Jul
19

What About Theresa May Plagiarizing Genghis Kahn?

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

There are scandals and then there are the things that should be scandals. Melania Trump gave a speech on Monday plagiarizing a speech by Michelle Obama, not to mention a song by Rick Astley (that, like these speeches, someone else wrote). Yes, that's funny. The accented immigrant spouse campaigning for the xenophobic bigot is funny in itself. So are her pornographic photos in the context of the Republican Party's denunciation of pornography as a major threat. But, between you and me, if you base your voting on someone's spouse's mindless cynical blather about "values," you've got worse problems than trying to choose between two parties that can swap such blather word-for-word with each other -- and so, consequently, do we all.

And if you can take a look at opening night of the Republican Convention and worry more about Melania's nonsense than about the endless repetition of the dogma that holds 96% of humanity in contempt, that declares the United States to be the only place in the world that matters, then you're missing the forest for the trees and the arsenal for the guns. Go back and watch Virginia Foxx suggesting that only in the United States does anyone value families. Or watch a crazed looking Michael Flynn declare that "the destructive pattern of putting the interests of other nations ahead of our own will end." Then please devote some moments to trying to identify all the nations whose interests the United States puts ahead of its own. Flynn, by the way, said he favored "a new American century." Should the fact that he didn't call it "the project for" really get him off the hook? Yes, yes, it's too short and common a phrase to truly count as plagiarism, but it has already killed a lot more people than Michelle's/Melania's "your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise."

Jul
17

Best Speech a U.S. President Ever Gave

Tag: Peace and War

In planning an upcoming conference and nonviolent action aimed at challenging the institution of war, with the conference to be held at American University, I can't help but be drawn to the speech a U.S. president gave at American University a little more than 50 years ago. Whether or not you agree with me that this is the best speech ever given by a U.S. president, there should be little dispute that it is the speech most out of step with what anyone will say at either the Republican or the Democratic national convention this year. Here's a video of the best portion of the speech:

President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a time when, like now, Russia and the United States had enough nuclear weapons ready to fire at each other on a moment's notice to destroy the earth for human life many times over. At that time, however, in 1963, there were only three nations, not the current nine, with nuclear weapons, and many fewer than now with nuclear energy. NATO was far removed from Russia's borders. The United States had not just facilitated a coup in Ukraine. The United States wasn't organizing military exercises in Poland or placing missiles in Poland and Romania. Nor was it manufacturing smaller nukes that it described as "more usable." The work of managing U.S. nuclear weapons was then deemed prestigious in the U.S. military, not the dumping ground for drunks and misfits that it has become. Hostility between Russia and the United States was high in 1963, but the problem was widely known about in the United States, in contrast to the current vast ignorance. Some voices of sanity and restraint were permitted in the U.S. media and even in the White House. Kennedy was using peace activist Norman Cousins as a messenger to Nikita Khrushchev, whom he never described, as Hillary Clinton has described Vladimir Putin, as "Hitler."  

Kennedy framed his speech as a remedy for ignorance, specifically the ignorant view that war is inevitable. This is the opposite of what President Barack Obama said recently in Hiroshima and earlier in Prague and Oslo. Kennedy called peace "the most important topic on earth." It is a topic not touched on in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. I fully expect this year's Republican national convention to celebrate ignorance.

Kennedy renounced the idea of a "Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war," precisely what both big political parties now and most speeches on war by most past U.S. presidents ever have favored. Kennedy went so far as to profess to care about 100% rather than 4% of humanity:

Jul
14

U.S. Drone Program Proves Counterproductive on Own Terms

Tag: Peace and War

If there's any debate right now in the major U.S. media regarding blowing people up with missiles from drones, it's about "transparency" (official reporting on who's killed) or death counts of those people somehow identified as civilians. But unless drones are just a means of vicariously venting rage, or of profiting drone manufacturers, they are -- like the wider wars they are part of -- supposed to serve some purpose.

Although terrorism keeps increasing during the Overseas Contingency Operations Formerly Known as the Global War on Terrorism, in theory the war making is supposed to (1) not be terrorism itself, and (2) reduce terrorism or end it. While I think a strong case can be made that neither of those conditions has been or ever could be met, and that even as mass therapy or economic catalyst the whole thing is doomed to failure, the drones are the piece of it that has begun to be recognized as counterproductive.

In a master's thesis from a student at Georgetown University, summarized in a recent article, Emily Manna took data on terrorism in Pakistan between 2006 and 2012 from the Global Terrorism Database and data on drone strikes where it was corroborated by both the New America Foundation and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Manna found that after the United States begins attacking a province with drones, terrorism increases there.

Jul
13

What Makes Obama Think His Wars Are Legal?

Tag: Peace and War

President Barack Obama's lawyers, working on our dime, have just laid out a 46-page explanation of why current wars are legal. They've done so in response to a lawsuit, which has limited the argument in some significant ways.

First, while Obama has bragged about bombing seven nations, this lawsuit deals only with whichever parts of the world ISIS is in. But there is every reason to believe that Obama would make similar arguments for the legality of his other wars.

Second, while Tony Blair may be in hot water for violating the UN Charter's ban on threatening or using war, and while Germans and Japanese were once prosecuted for violating the Kellogg-Briand Pact's ban on waging war, this lawsuit takes no notice of such laws whatsoever, and thus neither does Obama's response. In fact, the "Most Progressive Democratic Party Platform in History" itself violates the UN Charter by threatening war on Iran and, a bit less explicitly, on Syria.

The lawsuit accuses Obama of waging war against ISIS in violation of the War Powers Resolution. Obama's lawyers (or, if you prefer the idiom of "our troops," we can say "our lawyers") try four different arguments for why that isn't so.

Jul
13

Will the Zanana Ever Stop?

Tag: Peace and War

In the dialect of Gaza, where drones buzzed and blew things up for 51 days two years ago, there's an onomatopoetic word for drones: zanana. When Atef Abu Saif's kids would ask him, during that war, to take them out of doors somewhere, and he would refuse, they would then ask: "But you'll take us when the zanana stops?"

Saif has published his diary from that time, with 51 entries, called The Drone Eats With Me. I recommend reading one chapter a day. You're not too late to read most of them on the two-year anniversary of their happening. Reading the book straight through may not properly convey the length of the experience. On the other hand, you may want to finish before the next war on Gaza begins, and I really can't say when that will be.

The 2014 war was the third that Saif's family had been part of in five years. It's not that he or his wife or his little children joined the military. They didn't head off to that mythical land that U.S. journalism calls the "battlefield." No, the wars come right to them. From their point of view beneath the planes and drones, the killing is entirely random. Tonight it's the building next door destroyed, tomorrow some houses just out of sight. Roads are blown up, and orchards, even a cemetery so as not to deny the dead a share in the hell of the living. Long dead bones fly out of the soil in the explosions with as much logical purpose as your cousin's kids are decapitated or your grandmother's home flattened.

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