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Obama Does Pete Seeger

If I had a Hellfire
Missile in the morning,
And another in the evening,
Oh that'd be grand!
I'd take out Iraqis,
I'd take out Ukrainians,
I'd take out folks between,
The Atlantic and Pacific,
Oh that'd be grand!

If I had a drone
I'd buzz it in the morning,
I'd buzz it in the evening,
All over your sand,
I'd take out Yemenis,
I'd take out some Syrians
I'd take out folksy folks between,
Argentina and the Arctic
Oh oh oh that'd be grand

If I had a bomb
I'd drop it in the morning
I'd drop it in the evening
Wouldya lend me a hand
We'd destroy Libya
We'd demolish Palestine
We'd take out all male folks between
age eighteen and a hundred
Oh let me be clear that'd be grand

Well, I've got a Hellfire
and I've got a drone
I've got a 500-pound bomb to drop
Come lend me a hand
It's the Hellfire of justice
It's the drone of freedom
It's a Nobel Peace Prize bomb
from a Constitutional scholar
Oh isn't it grand!

It's the Hellfire of justice
It's the drone of freedom
It's a Nobel Peace Prize bomb
from a Constitutional scholar
Oh isn't it grand!

Stop the Smart Wars

Remarks at event for WorldBeyondWar.org in Washington, D.C., on August 9, 2014.

Welcome.  I'm going to say a few words and then introduce each of our other speakers, who will each speak for 10 minutes or less, and then we'll open it up for discussion with all of us.

World Beyond War is a brand new organization, just beginning to organize volunteers, raise funds, hire staff, and post advertisements online and around the world. I'm the only paid staff thus far, and that's part-time.  But thousands of people and organizations of all kinds from 70 nations thus far have signed the pledge at WorldBeyondWar.org. It reads -- in English; we have it posted in many languages, and can use more translations from any of you who are able:

"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."

We're passing around sign-up sheets on which you can sign your name if you agree with that.  You can also indicate how you'd like to be involved, if you would.  I hope you will.  This is a global effort, but just as the movement to abolish slavery needed to begin in London, this new birth for the movement to abolish war can only get so far without strong participation in Washington, D.C., participation that works together with our allies around the world, many of whom are pushing back against militarism that is funded and directed here, as well as weapons produced in this country and marketed abroad from here.

Why now? Here we are at 100 years since World War One was launched, and people have been trying -- and pretending to be trying -- to use war to end war ever since, and -- like using capital punishment to end murder or using beer to end alcoholism -- it's been a doomed pursuit. 

Here we are at 69 years since Truman dropped the bombs on Japan, lied about the nature of the target, and justified it as revenge, not as a means of ending a war, which he knew it was not, and not as a means of threatening the Soviet Union, which he knew that it was.  And we've been stockpiling these apocalyptic weapons ever since, knowing that complete destruction due to intentional or accidental use is more likely the more time passes.  But people in power in this city believe they are better off the more Russia is antagonized.

Here we are at 50 years since the Gulf of Tonkin incident did not actually happen, the Pentagon is investing millions in commemoration and beautification of the slaughter of 4 million Vietnamese, and President Obama has taken the occasion to start bombing Iraq again, apparently believing that for the first time in history the bombs will generate friendship rather than blowback.  It's amazing how long each threatened minority group in Iraq survived before the U.S. brought democracy, and before the U.S. existed.  And now dropping food is accompanied by 500 pound bombs.  There is no military solution, says President Obama, only reconciliation can help.  Well, then why not drop food on the entire region?  It would cost a small fraction of what the missiles and bombs cost.  Would that be rewarding terrorists?  No, it would be recognizing humanity by ceasing to be terrorists.  Dropping bombs on people enrages them and binds their loyalty to those fighting back.  If the institution of war were continuing for rational reasons, that lesson would have sunk in by now and stopped it.

Meanwhile in Gaza, genocide has gone mainstream, with discussion of the complete elimination of the people of Gaza openly advocated by top Israeli officials in Israeli media, and by more than a few U.S. columnists, comedians, and crackpots as well.  And people protest the slaughter by contrasting it to war.  But 97% of the deaths in Gaza are the people of Gaza, and 97% of the deaths in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq were the people of Iraq.  One outside observer's genocide is another patriot's war.  Neither is a tool to end the other, and both are often words for the same thing.

Why choose this moment, when one speech cannot even mention all the wars, to begin an effort to fully eliminate the whole institution from our culture?  A decade back, there were marches in the streets and outrage over war lies that had proved false.  Nowadays lies about impending danger in Libya, the use of particular weapons in Syria, the construction of particular weapons in Iran, the origins of hostility in Ukraine, the expansion of the U.S. military into Africa and Asia, and the results of the doings of the deadly drones pass by so unnoticed that when Obama starts bombing Iraq, the one place everyone was supposed to know shouldn't be bombed, at least some people conclude that war is made acceptable by Obama, rather than Obama being made unacceptable by war.

But, you know what, for millions all over the world, Obama and other war makers' actions are unacceptable when they include war.  Even in the United States, opinion has swung against war quite dramatically.  Polls in recent months have found under 10 or 20 percent favoring a new U.S. war in any place that can be named: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Ukraine.  Two weeks ago the U.S. House voted to forbid any new presidential war in Iraq.  There's no spine there to enforce that measure, and it wasn't passed by the Senate, but it comes on the heels of dramatic reductions in drone strikes, the blocking of a bill in February what would have committed the United States to joining any Israeli-Iranian war, and the stopping of a proposal in September to send missiles screaming into Syria.  The point is not that we're winning or losing.  The point is that we have examples to hold up to those who claim no war can be stopped, and we have opinion dramatically moving our way, even on Israel, whenever specific real wars are named.

The trouble lies in how many people believe an unspecified good war might come along someday, because that myth keeps the military fueled and funded in a manner that makes actual very bad wars likely.  The trouble is in "looking forward" because the past has such an extreme antiwar bias.  That, and how many people protest less against smaller, less expensive, more aerial, or robotized wars, even as those wars proliferate, concentrate power, and generate new enemies.  The problem is the widespread belief that some wars or some parts of some wars can be legal, moral, and useful -- a sort of fine-toothed distinction-drawing that we just don't engage in with other evils like slavery or child abuse or rape.                                                                

So there is, in fact, anti-war momentum to be harnessed and encouraged and directed toward the entire institution rather than only each of its separate pieces.  But why a new organization?  Aren't there organizations existing that already oppose war? Of course there are.  They are not enough.  The need is not to divide our resources but to enlarge them by bringing in new people and groups, and to better use our energies by choosing the best strategies we can.  There is a job out there that isn't being done.  Much of it is an educational job.  Many people do not believe that war can be ended.  It's a ridiculous hurdle but one that has to be taken on.  Many believe that war can protect us or protect others.  The facts say otherwise, but facts require a lot of support when they're going up against emotions like fear or the desire to believe that public officials are not sociopathic.  A campaign to spread the word that war can and must be eliminated worldwide needs to be created and is something that WorldBeyondWar has just begun.

I spoke at the Veterans For Peace Convention recently, and they are completely on board with helping to advance this effort, as are many other peace organizations.  The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom supports this.  I attended the national committee meeting of the War Resisters League, of which I'm a member, recently, and they share the vision of World Beyond War but have put their resources into particular efforts, all good ones, including opposing teargas, doing counter-recruitment, etc.  WorldBeyondWar has begun supporting and will continue working on all sorts of partway steps that move us in the direction of a world beyond war.  But we will advance an understanding of war as a cultural preference, not something made inevitable by any of the factors that interact with and facilitate it.  And we will seek to reframe antiwar activism as part of the struggle toward the ultimate goal of abolition, rather than as part of a struggle to reform war or civilize war or only lessen war's damage and stop there.

We're going to try to stop using the term "we" when referring to public crimes we've opposed, stop opposing Pentagon waste more than Pentagon efficiency, stop calling an aggressive institution the defense industry, stop denouncing particular war crimes in a way that suggests a war itself is not a crime, stop opposing dumb wars as if some are smart, stop opposing wars because they leave the military ill-prepared as if we don't want the military ill-prepared, stop focusing on financial costs and costs to the aggressor in a way that blocks out the nature of a war as a one-sided slaughter, stop celebrating veterans and begin celebrating resisters, and develop a culture of peace that marks peace holidays and thanks peace activists for their service, while making visible the nonviolent alternatives to war.

World Beyond War is also developing a website that makes the strongest case we know how against every argument for war. The case against war that is laid out at WorldBeyondWar.org includes these topics:

War is immoral.

War endangers us.

War threatens our environment.

War erodes our liberties.

War impoverishes us.

We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

That last one is important, and a bit different from how many schools we could have built for the price of one war -- which is always a useful point too.  The larger point is that ordinary military spending, apart from particular wars, is easily ten times the price of a particular war.  And a small fraction of that spending could end starvation, provide clean water, and bring medicine and agriculture and green energy to the world.  We could take on real dangers, including environmental ones, rather than generating dangers through war.

We can talk about each argument, but now I want to introduce our next speaker.

 

Maria Santelli was the founder of the New Mexico GI Rights Hotline and is the Executive Director of a terrific organization here in D.C. called the Center on Conscience and War.

Jeff Bachman is a professorial lecturer in human rights and the Co-Director of the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs program at the School of International Service at American University.

Vincent Intondi is Associate Professor of History at Montgomery College and Director of Research at the Nuclear Studies Institute of the American University here in D.C. He is also author of African Americans Against the Bomb.

Nadia Kamoona is an Iraqi-American student at the University of Virginia, a future international human rights lawyer, and this summer has been an intern for World Beyond War.

Andy Shallal is an Iraqi-American artist, activist, and entrepreneur, and a recent candidate for mayor of Washington, D.C., and the proprietor of Busboys and Poets, which makes him our host this evening.

Back in Iraq, Jack!

President Obama may want us to sympathize with patriotic torturers, he may turn on whistleblowers like a flesh-eating zombie, he may have lost all ability to think an authentic thought, but I will say this for him: He knows how to mark the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin fraud like a champion.

It's back in Iraq, Jack! Yackety yack! Obama says the United States has fired missiles and dropped food in Iraq -- enough food to feed 8,000, enough missiles to kill an unknown number (presumably 7,500 or fewer keeps this a "humanitarian" effort).  The White House told reporters on a phone call following the President's Thursday night speech that it is expediting weapons to Iraq, producing Hellfire missiles and ammunition around the clock, and shipping those off to a nation where Obama swears there is no military solution and only reconciliation can help.  Hellfire missiles are famous for helping people reconcile.

Obama went straight into laying out his excuses for this latest war, before speaking against war and in favor of everything he invests no energy in.  First, the illegitimate government of Iraq asked him to do it.  Second, ISIS is to blame for the hell that the United States created in Iraq.  Third, there are still lots of places in the world that Obama has not yet bombed.  Oh, and this is not really a war but just protection of U.S. personnel, combined with a rescue mission for victims of a possible massacre on a scale we all need to try to understand. 

Wow! We need to understand the scale of killing in Iraq?  This is the United States you're talking to, the people who paid for the slaughter of 0.5 to 1.5 million Iraqis this decade.  Either we're experts on the scale of mass killings or we're hopelessly incapable of understanding such matters. 

Completing the deja vu all over again Thursday evening, the substitute host of the Rachel Maddow Show seemed eager for a new war on Iraq, all of his colleagues approved of anything Obama said, and I heard "Will troops be sent?" asked by several "journalists," but never heard a single one ask "Will families be killed?"

Pro-war veteran Democratic congressman elected by war opponents Patrick Murphy cheered for Obama supposedly drawing a red line for war.  Murphy spoke of Congress without seeming aware that less than two weeks ago the House voted to deny the President any new war on Iraq.  There are some 199 members of the House who may be having a hard time remembering that right now. 

Pro-war veteran Paul Rieckhoff added that any new veterans created would be heroes, and -- given what a "mess" Iraq is now -- Rieckhoff advocated "looking forward." The past has such an extreme antiwar bias. 

Rounding out the reunion of predictable pro-war platitudes and prevarications, Nancy Pelosi immediately quoted the bits of Obama's speech that suggested he was against the war he was starting. Can Friedman Units and benchmarks be far behind?

Obama promises no combat troops will be sent back to Iraq.  No doubt.  Instead it'll be planes, drones, helicopters, and "non-combat" troops.  "America is coming to help" finally just sounded as evil as Reagan meant it to, but it was in Obama's voice.  The ironies exploded like Iraqi houses on Thursday.  While the United States locks Honduran refugee children in cages, it proposes to bomb Iraq for refugees.  While Gaza starves and Detroit lacks water, Obama bombs Iraq to stop people from starving.  While the U.S. ships weapons to Israel to commit genocide, and to Syria for allies of ISIS, it is rushing more weapons into Iraq to supposedly prevent genocide on a mountaintop -- also to add to the weapons supplies already looted by ISIS.

Of course, it's also for "U.S. interests," but if that means U.S. people, why not pull them out?  If it means something else, why not admit as much in the light of day and let the argument die of shame?

Let me add a word to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman David Swanson, who is not me and whom I do not know: Please do keep pushing for actual humanitarian aid.  But if you spoke against the missiles that are coming with the food, the reporters left that bit out.  You have to fit it into the same sentence with the food and water if you want it quoted.  I hope there is an internal U.N. lobby for adoption by the U.N. of the U.N. Charter, and if there is I wish it all the luck in the world.

Nixon's Treason Now Acknowledged

A George Will column this week, reviewing a book by Ken Hughes called Chasing Shadows, mentions almost in passing that presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon secretly sabotaged peace talks that appeared likely to end the war on Vietnam until he intervened.  As a result, the war raged on and Nixon won election promising to end the war.

Will treats the matter as a technicality, citing the law against private diplomacy rather than the principle that one shouldn't undermine a government's attempts to halt an episode of mass-murder.

You'd almost have to already know what Will was referring to if you were going to pick up on the fact that Nixon secretly prevented peace while publicly pretending he had a peace plan.  And you'd have to be independently aware that once Nixon got elected, he continued the war for years, the total carnage coming to include the deaths of 4 million Vietnamese plus hundreds of thousands of Cambodians and Laotians, with the deaths from bombs not previously exploded continuing on a major scale to this day, and, of course, the 58,000 Americans killed in the war who are listed on a wall in D.C. as if somehow more worthy than all the others.

Will is not the only one to acknowledge what Nixon did.  The Smithsonian reported on Nixon's treason last year, on the occasion of new tapes of Lyndon Johnson being released.  But the Smithsonian didn't call it treason; it treated the matter more as hard-nosed election strategizing.  Ken Hughes himself published an article on the History News Network two years ago saying almost exactly what Will's column said this week. But the publication used the headline "LBJ Thought Nixon Committed Treason to Win the 1968 Election."  Of course LBJ thought all kinds of things, sane and otherwise.  The first two words of the headline ought to have been deleted.

The point is that it's now apparently become fashionable to acknowledge, but minimize, what Nixon did. 

Will's focus is on Hughes' theory that Nixon's plan to break into or even firebomb the Brookings Institution was driven by his desire to recover evidence of his own treasonous sabotaging of peace, and that Watergate grew from Nixon's desire to coverup that horrendous crime.  This differs from various theories as to what Nixon was so desperate to steal from Brookings (that he was after evidence that Kennedy murdered Diem, or evidence that LBJ halted the bombing of Vietnam just before the election to help Humphrey win, etc.) It certainly seems that Nixon had reasons for wanting files from Brookings that his staff did not share his views on the importance of. And covering up his own crimes was always a bigger motivation for Nixon than exposing someone else's.  Nixon was after Daniel Ellsberg, not because Ellsberg had exposed Nixon's predecessors' high crimes and misdemeanors, but because Nixon feared what Ellsberg might have on him.

But Nixon's sabotaging of peace in 1968 has been known for many years.  And that explanation of the Brookings incident has been written about for years, and written about in a context that doesn't bury the significance of the story.  One need only turn to writings by Robert Parry (for example here, and in the book pictured on that page).  Writes Parry:

"One of the Washington press corps' most misguided sayings – that 'the cover-up is worse than the crime' – derived from the failure to understand the full scope of Nixon’s crimes of state."

The way Parry tells the story might explain why the Washington Post prefers George Will's version:

"Rostow's 'The "X" Envelope,' which was finally opened in 1994 and is now largely declassified, reveals that Johnson had come to know a great deal about Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage from FBI wiretaps. In addition, tapes of presidential phone conversations, which were released in 2008, show Johnson complaining to key Republicans about the gambit and even confronting Nixon personally.

"In other words, the file that Nixon so desperately wanted to find was not primarily about how Johnson handled the 1968 bombing halt but rather how Nixon's campaign obstructed the peace talks by giving assurances to South Vietnamese leaders that Nixon would get them a better result.

"After becoming President, Nixon did extend and expand the conflict, much as South Vietnamese leaders had hoped. Ultimately, however, after more than 20,000 more Americans and possibly a million more Vietnamese had died, Nixon accepted a peace deal in 1972 similar to what Johnson was negotiating in 1968. After U.S. troops finally departed, the South Vietnamese government soon fell to the North and the Vietcong."

Parry even puts Nixon's action in the context of a pattern of actions that includes Ronald Reagan's election following sabotage of President Carter's hostage negotiations with Iran.  Parry has written as well about LBJ's failure to expose Nixon as part of a pattern of Democratic Party spinelessness.  There's President Clinton's failure to pursue Iran-Contra, Al Gore's failure to protest a Supreme Court coup, John Kerry's failure to protest apparent election fraud in Ohio, etc. 

A less partisan and less contemporary context might include Nixon's phony pro-peace election campaign with those of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and other presidents elected to stay out of wars that they promptly jumped into.  And that pattern might include candidate Obama's innumerable campaign-rally promises to end the war in Iraq, which as president he kept going for years, attempted to prolong further, and has begun trying to restart now that an opportunity has presented itself -- meanwhile having tripled troop levels in Afghanistan, attacked Libya, created a new kind of war with drones in multiple nations, and pushed the U.S. military into a greater and more active presence in numerous African and Asian countries.

It's almost universally maintained by those who have expressed any opinion on the matter that if the public had known about Nixon's treason while he was president, all hell would have broken loose.  Are we really such idiots that we've now slipped into routinely acknowledging the truth of the matter but raising no hell whatsoever?  Do we really care so much about personalities and vengeance that Nixon's crime means nothing if Nixon is dead?  Isn't the need to end wars and spying and government secrets, to make diplomacy public and nonviolent, a need that presses itself fiercely upon us regardless of how many decades it will take before we learn every offensive thing our current top officials are up to?

We Won't Forget Wisconsin

A new film called Wisconsin Rising is screening around the country, the subject, of course, being the activism surrounding the mass occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011.  I recommend attending a planned screening or setting up a new one, and discussing the film collectively upon its conclusion.  For all the flaws in Wisconsin's activism in 2011 and since, other states haven't even come close -- most have a great deal to learn.

The film tells a story of one state, where, long ago, many workers' rights originated or found early support, and where, many years later, threats to workers' rights, wages, and benefits, and to what those workers produce including education in public schools, were aggressively initiated by the state's right-wing governor, Scott Walker. 

The joy and inspiration created by the public resistance to that threat were intense.  The occupation, the singing, the marching, the creative props and protests, the donations for pizza from around the world, the parades, the rallies, the concerts, the firefighters and police officers spared in the legislation but choosing to join with the rest of the public anyway, the growing crowds, the growing awareness of the power of nonviolent action, the legislators bringing their desks out onto the grass to meet with constituents in the cold snow or fleeing the state to deny the governor a quorum, Fox News propaganda showing a violent rally supposedly in Wisconsin but with palm trees in the background, the Wisconsinites hauling plastic palm trees to the capitol, the high school students joining the occupation on behalf of their teachers, Governor Walker unable to step outdoors without protest -- all of this energy and activity is accurately conveyed in Wisconsin Rising.  For over three weeks, Wisconsin's capitol was occupied, and the reminders of it are still frequently visible there.

The Wisconsin legislature rammed through its horrendous legislation despite the public opposition. The film does not hide that awful defeat.  But the same would have happened had there been no opposition.  The question is whether the opposition did any good and whether it could conceivably have succeeded had wiser decisions been made -- and whether power was tapped that could be enlarged still further.  I think the answer to all of these questions is yes. 

In the film we see people withdrawing their money from a bank that funds candidates like Walker.  That can and should continue. 

We see a choice made to withdraw energy from protests and demonstrations and nonviolent resistance and camps and marches and a general strike, in order to put all of that energy into recall elections. The lessons of all of those labor songs sung at all of those rallies are not followed. Instead, an effort is made to pretend that the system works and that slightly better personalities in positions of corrupt power will solve everything.  Massive popular energy went into a contest where it could not compete with massive money.

What might have happened instead? Energy could have stayed with the occupation, drawing inspiration from and giving inspiration to activism around the United States and the world.  I remember Michael Moore pointing out at the Wisconsin occupation that 400 people in the United States had as much money as half the country, and pundits compelled to note that that was true.  An education campaign about the division and concentration of wealth would have been time better spent.  Creative means of keeping working people's wealth with working people, rather than handing it over to Wall Street, would have been wiser use of euphoric enthusiasm.

An effort might also have been made to build even wider state-level solidarity by recognizing the state of Wisconsin, like the other 49 U.S. states, as a victim of a federal budget gone off the deep end of plutocratic plunder and militarism.  The federal government does not support education or any other human need, at home or abroad, in remotely the way that it could if it curtailed spending on war preparations, giveaways to corporations and billionaires, or both.  What if Wisconsin were to convert from weapons to peaceful industries, tax major federal tax evaders at the state level instead, and call for a Constitutional Convention to recriminalize bribery?  What if the money Wisconsinites dump into elections went into setting up and supporting independent media outlets in Wisconsin instead?

What if three enjoyable, energizing, inspiring weeks of effort wasn't seen as a record long action, but as the opening preview of much longer struggles?  What if the pressure were to build back up, and a different direction were chosen this time, the direction of nonviolent resistance rather than naive compliance?  Wisconsin, at least, has done its warm ups.  Most states are still in the locker room.

Talk Nation Radio: Ben Ferencz, Last Living Nuremberg Prosecutor, on War Today

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ben-ferencz-last-living-nuremberg-prosecutor-on-war-today

Benjamin Ferencz was a prosecutor at Nuremberg and at age 94 is still focused on the problem of applying the rule of law to a world plagued by war. His website is http://benferencz.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

If a Genocide Falls in the Forest

There's a wide and mysterious chasm between the stated intentions of the Israeli government as depicted by the U.S. media and what the Israeli government has been doing in Gaza, even as recounted in the U.S. media.

With the morgues full, Gazans are packing freezers with their dead children. Meanwhile, the worst images to be found in Israel depict fear, not death and suffering. Why the contrast? If the Israeli intent is defensive, why are 97% of the deaths Gazan, not Israeli? If the targets are fighters, why are whole families being slaughtered and their houses leveled? Why are schools and hospitals and children playing on the beach targeted? Why target water and electricity if the goal is not to attack an entire population?

The mystery melts away if you look at the stated intentions of the Israeli government as not depicted by the U.S. media but readily available in Israeli media and online. 

On August 1st, the Deputy Speaker of Israel's Parliament posted on his FaceBook page a plan for the complete destruction of the people of Gaza using concentration camps.  He had laid out a somewhat similar plan in a July 15th column.

Another member of the Israeli Parliament, Ayelet Shaked, called for genocide in Gaza at the start of the current war, writing: "Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there."

Taking a slightly different approach, Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University has been widely quoted in Israeli media saying, "The only thing that can deter [Gazans] is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."

The Times of Israel published a column on August 1st, and later unpublished it, with the headline "When Genocide Is Permissible." The answer turned out to be: now.

On August 5th, Giora Eiland, former head of Israel's National Security Council, published a column with the headline "In Gaza, There Is No Such Thing as 'Innocent Civilians'."  Eiland wrote: "We should have declared war against the state of Gaza (rather than against the Hamas organization). . . . [T]he right thing to do is to shut down the crossings, prevent the entry of any goods, including food, and definitely prevent the supply of gas and electricity."

It's all part of putting Gaza "on a diet," in the grotesque wording of an advisor to a former Israeli Prime Minister. 

If it were common among members of the Iranian or Russian government to speak in favor of genocide, you'd better believe the U.S. media would notice. Why does this phenomenon go unremarked in the case of Israel? Noticing it is bound to get you called an anti-Semite, but that's hardly a concern worthy of notice while children are being killed by the hundreds.

Another explanation is U.S. complicity. The weapons Israel is using are given to it, free-of-charge, by the U.S. government, which also leads efforts to provide Israel immunity for its crimes.  Check out this revealing map of which nations recognize the nation of Palestine. 

A third explanation is that looking too closely at what Israel's doing could lead to someone looking closely at what the U.S. has done and is doing. Roughly 97% of the deaths in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq were Iraqi.  Things U.S. soldiers and military leaders said about Iraqis were shameful and genocidal.

War is the biggest U.S. investment, and contemporary war is almost always a one-sided slaughter of civilians.  If seeing the horror of it in Israeli actions allow us to begin seeing the same in U.S. actions, an important step will have been taken toward war's elimination.

Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Come to the Fonda, N.Y., Peace Conference and Cruise, August 15 - 16

The 16th Annual Kateri Peace Conference will be held with Fonda, NY, as its base on August 15th and 16th.

Extensive information on the nature of this event (I've been before and highly, highly recommend it. --David Swanson) is available here: http://kateripeaceconference.org

On Friday, August 15, from 10 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., the third annual day of reflection associated with this conference will be held at the bucolic National Kateri Tekawitha Shrine in Fonda. The day of reflection will be led by Thomas Gumbleton, a Roman Catholic Bishop from Detroit who for many decades has raised his voice, with great personal consequence, against war, militarism and social injustice.

On Friday evening, the Conference will officially open at 7 p.m. with the first ever "Rocking the Boat for Peace" cruise on the Erie Canal, leaving from Herkimer, NY. On board will be conference keynoters:

  • DR. JILL STEIN, former Green Party Presidential candidate;
  • DAVID SWANSON, author, journalist, radio host, organizer, blogger, World Beyond War director;
  • KRISTIN CHRISTMAN, local writer and peace philosopher;
  • BISHOP THOMAS GUMBLETON;
  • HOWIE HAWKINS, Green Party candidate for Governor of New York;

and many others eager to consider the conference theme of transformation in a transformationally beautiful and peaceful setting. The evening promises to be a fun filled one and a lovely chance to have a great time with some powerful voices for peace and justice.

On Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. we'll have the opportunity to engage in a day long "conversation" with our speakers ( see above and including DR. STEVE BREYMAN) and fellow conference attendees through a series of questions designed to move us from a consideration of issues confronting us as concerned global citizens to a contemplation of strategies and solutions . The day's structure is designed to promote reflection, solidarity, and action.

Saturday's discussion promises to be extremely informative, enlightening, and energizing.  Hope to see you there!

Finally, Fake News Done Right

John Oliver is what I always wished Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would be.  In fact, he's what I always wished Ted Koppel or Jim Lehrer would be.

With so many people getting their news from comedians, the distinction between fake news and real news doesn't seem very useful.  There's news that pushes corporate propaganda with a straight face and endless respect for those in power.  And there's news that cracks jokes and mocks and ridicules those most deserving of scorn.

But most comedy news up until now, as far as I have seen, has mocked everyone from the powerful and corrupt to the sincere and righteous.  Jon Stewart has had his brilliant moments, but -- even setting aside his weak, fawning interviews -- his attitude is one of mockery for all and contempt for any serious engagement with the world.  He held a rally for people too smart to attend any other rallies -- and too dumb to realize they were volunteer participants in an advertisement.

Solemn news and humorous news thus far have both tended to be reactions to events.  Both have told us what a horrible bill was passed by Congress yesterday, never what we might want to actively demand or resist with an eye on tomorrow.  Both have been disempowering.  Both have told us to stay home.  And both have focused on the agenda of the status quo, as the serious news covers the day's disasters, and the funny news covers how absurdly the serious news covered the day's disasters.  Neither has contributed much historical perspective or background; neither has been especially educational.

Now, watch John Oliver on nukes:

If you knew and were outraged by what he said, you're probably thrilled that he's said it.  If you didn't know, you're importantly better informed.  Here's news that's intended for a government of, by, and for the people, encouraging people to get active around an issue of the greatest importance and about which most people have lost interest.

Watch John Oliver on prisons: (Yes, there's singing.)

Watch John Oliver on income inequality:

Watch John Oliver on net neutrality:

Watch John Oliver on climate change:

That is five more times than I have ever before told anyone to watch television.  Don't overdo it.