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I wonder if people in the United States understand what it means that the Labour Party in London now has a peace activist in charge of it. Jeremy Corbyn does not resemble any U.S. politicians. He doesn't favor "only the smart wars" or prefer drone murders to massive invasions. Corbyn opposes wars, and he works to end militarism. He was over here in Washington recently trying to get a Brit freed from Guantanamo. He chairs the Stop the War Coalition, one of the biggest peace organizations in Britain. He meets with foreign peace activists, like me, who can't even enter the same worldview, much less the same room, with any U.S. leaders.
When Corbyn and I both spoke at a peace event in London four years ago, he was introduced by Andrew Murray as working in Parliament with "a pack of war lords." Corbyn agreed: Parliament is made up of war lords and war criminals, he remarked.
Corbyn at that point credited the Stop the War Coalition with having helped to prevent an attack on Iran in recent years, just as I believed the US peace movement deserved credit, and does so again this year.
Corbyn called the idea that more time was needed to finish a job in Afghanistan a "load of tosh." He also pointed out that the two sides fighting in Libya could exchange parts for their rifles, because they both had rifles provided by Britain.
Corbyn doesn't just call war criminals "war criminals." He intends to see them prosecuted, including Tony Blair, whom Corbyn wants to see face charges for the 2003 attack on Iraq, which Corbyn of course opposed.
Corbyn doesn't just oppose militarism rhetorically. He wants to shut it down. He opposes the Trident nuclear boondoggle and intends to withdraw the UK from NATO. What other NATO members might follow the UK's lead?
Corbyn doesn't just express nice sentiments about a distant future without nuclear weapons. He advocates unilateral disarmament by the UK, in compliance with the non-proliferation treaty.
Corbyn doesn't just muse about non-military solutions in Syria but seeks to find them and to prevent military action that makes crises worse. He plans to halt British airstrikes from planes or drones in Syria. He also mentions the uncomfortable topic of "some of our supposed allies in the region" providing weapons and funding to ISIS -- and proposes to cut that off rather than fueling the fire with more weapons and attacks.
Corbyn is even opposed to the steady buildup of hostility toward Russia, and faults NATO for expanding and the West for creating the crisis in Ukraine. He doesn't excuse actual misdeeds by Russia, but faults U.S. and European aggression and hypocrisy.
And, though this may be difficult for Americans to imagine, Corbyn opposes the mass slaughter of Palestinians by Israel.
Hours after being elected leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn spoke on Saturday at a huge pro-refugee rally in Parliament Square, and blamed the refugee crisis on its cause, declaring that he would not support the past policy of rushing about the world launching wars.
Americans have come to believe that politicians who support, promote, tolerate, or fund wars can be "war critics" by proposing various tweaks to the war machine.
Bernie Sanders focuses on money issues, taxing the rich, spending on the poor, but has thus far been permitted to engage in the general practice of speaking only about the 46% of federal discretionary spending that it not military. Nobody has asked him about the 54% that by the calculation of National Priorities Project is military. Nobody has asked him if Eisenhower was right that military spending produces wars. Here are 25,000 people who want to know whether and how much Sanders would want to cut military spending.
Sanders is silent on the public support for two, not one, great sources of revenue: taxing the rich (which he's all over) and cutting the military (which he avoids). When he is asked about wars and says Saudi Arabia should pay for and lead them, nobody has followed up by asking whether the wars are themselves good or not or how the theocratic murderous regime in Saudi Arabia which openly seeks to overthrow other governments and is dropping US cluster bombs on Yemen will transform the wars into forces for good. Since when is THAT "socialism"?
If you go to Bernie's website and click on ISSUES and search for foreign policy it's just not there. In the United States, candidates for high office are permitted to just be silent on how much they'd cut the military, even within a range of $100 billion. Does Sanders, or do any of the other candidates, favor $45 billion in more free weapons for Israel paid for by the U.S. public whom Sanders usually wants to spare lesser expenses than that? Who knows.
Jeremy Corbyn just won leadership of the Labour Party by promoting socialism at home and abroad. What are we yanks afraid of?
I thought the cause of climate destruction was political corruption, but I thought the cause of so little popular resistance was ignorance and denial. Naomi Klein's new film This Changes Everything seems to assume that everyone is aware of the problem. The enemy that the film takes on is the belief that "human nature" is simply greedy and destructive and destined to behave in the way that Western culture behaves toward the natural world.
I think that is an increasingly common frame of mind among those paying attention. But if it ever becomes truly widespread, I expect it to be followed by epidemics of despair.
Of course, the idea that "human nature" destroys the earth is as ridiculous as the idea that "human nature" creates war, or the idea that human nature combined with climate change must produce war. Human societies are destroying the climate at vastly different rates, as are individuals within them. Which are we to suppose are "human nature" and which acting in violation of the same?
I think it's safe to assume that those not recognizing the climate crisis are going to be brought to recognize it along an exponentially rising curve, and it's possible that treating an audience as if they all already know the problem is a helpful way to get them there.
The problem, this film tells us, is a story that humans have been telling each other for 400 years, a story in which people are the masters of the earth rather than its children. The fact that a story is the problem, Klein says, should give us hope, because we can change it. In fact, we largely need to change it to what it was before and what it has remained in some of the communities featured in the film.
Whether that should give us hope is, I think, a whole different question. Either we're past the point of being able to maintain a livable climate or we're not. Either the conference in Copenhagen was the last chance or it wasn't. Either the upcoming conference in Paris will be the last chance or it won't be. Either there's a grassroots way around the failure of such conferences, or there isn't. Either Obama's drill-baby-Arctic drilling is the final nail or it isn't. Same for the tar sands featured in the movie.
But if we are going to act, we need to act as Klein urges: not by intensifying our efforts to control nature, and not by seeking out a different planet to ruin, but by re-learning to live as part of the planet earth rather than its controllers. This film shows us horrific images of the wasteland created in Alberta to get at the tar sands. Canada is dumping some $150 to $200 billion into extracting this poison. And those involved speak in the film as if it were simply inevitable, thus allowing themselves no blame. In their view, humans may be masters of the earth, but they clearly are not masters of themselves.
In contrast, This Changes Everything shows us indigenous cultures where the belief that the land owns us rather than the reverse leads toward sustainable and also more enjoyable life. The film seems to focus on the immediate local destruction of projects like the tar sands and others, rather than the climate of the whole planet. But the point of featuring acts of local resistance is clearly to show us not only the joy and solidarity that comes in acting for a better world, but also to model what that world could look like and how it could be experienced.
We're usually told that it is a weakness of solar energy that it must function when the sun shines, a weakness of wind energy that it must wait for the wind to blow -- whereas it is a strength of coal or oil or nuclear that it can render your home uninhabitable 24-7. This Changes Everything suggests that renewable energy's dependence on nature is a strength because it is part of how we must live and think if we are to cease attacking our natural home.
Hurricane Sandy is featured as a hint of how nature will eventually let humans know who is really in charge. Not in charge because we haven't developed good enough technology yet to truly master it. Not in charge because we need to alter our energy consumption a little as soon as Wall Street approves. Not in charge because of a quirk of corruption in our government that fails to help people in danger while bombing other distant people to control more fossil fuels with which to bring on more danger. No. In charge now and forever, whether you like it or not -- but perfectly happy to work with us, to live in harmony with us, if we live in harmony with the rest of the earth.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Hillary Clinton's favorite "Hitler" these days is Putin, with Assad in close second. Her days of giggling triumphantly over the murder of Gadaffi may be behind her. And one of her favorite ways of demonizing Putin has been denouncing his opposition to gay rights. Yet Hillary, along with Rick Santorum, was a supporter of proposed legislation that might have legalized the recently hyped refusal of a government employee in Kentucky to allow a gay couple to marry. Hillary has long favored bombing places that lack civil liberties, and sponsored legislation to criminalize the burning of a U.S. flag.
Some contradictions in U.S. politics (President Obama allowing Arctic drilling and then visiting the Arctic to lament his own destruction of the earth's climate, for example) appear easily explained by sheer soulless corruption via the simple transfer of dollars. Other contradictions (the eagerness of Hillary and her then-president husband Bill) to launch a war over fictional atrocities in Yugoslavia but not over real ones in Rwanda) require at least a bit more analysis.
Diana Johnstone's forthcoming book, Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton, succeeds in providing an understanding of Hillary Clinton's own worldview like nothing else I've read -- and it does so despite being largely not about Hillary Clinton. Johnstone's book is culture and political criticism at its finest. It's a study of the American neo-liberal, with a particular focus here-and-there on Clinton. I strongly recommend reading it, whatever your level of interest in the "Queen of Chaos" herself, for its illumination of the ideologies underlying U.S. adventurism, exceptionalism, and "responsibility to protect" obsession with identifying believable threats of "genocide" in nations disloyal to Washington or Wall Street.
Johnstone has little interest in "proving" that a woman can be president, a point that she takes to be obvious. "Avoiding World War III is somewhat more urgent," she maintains. Why World War III? Isn't everything well with the world, other than a few evil Muslims trying to kill us all? And wouldn't a woman president help ease tensions?
Johnstone's account of Clinton's record moves from her support of a right-wing military coup in Honduras to her active engagement in facilitating a right-wing military coup in Ukraine. In between, Johnstone looks in-depth at Clinton's backing of her husband's illegal war on Yugoslavia, and the lies she's told about it, which go much deeper than her false claim to have braved sniper fire at an airport. Johnstone also examines the 2011 war on Libya for which she gives Clinton significant blame. (And lest we forget, here's video of Clinton promoting the 2002 authorization for an invasion of Iraq.)
Then there's Clinton's allegiance to the right-wing Israeli government agenda, on exhibit in her speech this week and in Queen of Chaos:
"In July 2014, billionaire Haim Saban declared in a Bloomberg TV interview that he would contribute 'as much as needed' to elect Hillary Clinton in 2016. This is significant because both Saban's fortune and his zeal seem to be inexhaustible. Saban declares proudly that his greatest concern is to protect Israel through strengthening the United States-Israel relationship. 'I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.' . . . Saban showered seven million dollars on the Democratic National Committee, donated five million dollars to Bill Clinton's Presidential Library, and above all, founded his very own think tank, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy within the Brookings Institution, previously considered the most politically neutral of major Washington think tanks. This was accomplished by a record donation to Brookings of thirteen million dollars. . . . As things look now, the 2016 presidential race could be a contest between Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson. In either case, the winner would be Israel."
Johnstone does a good job of bringing out Clinton's belief in the rightness of all U.S. wars, past and possible. In 2012 Clinton gave a speech in which she claimed that a "small group" was preventing the U.S. from going in and saving Syria from Hitler/Assad, a small group consisting of Iran, Russia, and China:
"She went on to say that: 'we are also increasing our efforts to assist the opposition,' before adding that if we are successful, 'Assad will increase the level of violent response.' At a moment like this, one must ask whether she realizes what she is saying. She is admitting that U.S. military aid to the opposition intended to prevent violence will provoke more violence. If there is indeed a possibility of 'genocide,' which is doubtful, this possibility will be increased by that very assistance to the opposition Hillary is calling for, since it will increase the overall violence."
When asked about bombing Libya on Meet the Press, Clinton said, "Let's be fair here. They didn't attack us, but what they were doing and Gaddafi's history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests ... and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests.' In short, bombing the hell out of a sovereign country that did us no harm is perfectly okay if we consider it to be in our 'interests,' or in the 'interests' of our 'European friends' and our 'Arab partners.' Not only that, but bombing a country, arming rebels and overthrowing its government is the way to prevent 'disruption' and 'instability.'"
Clinton is open about her view of the world, but would prefer the details remained unknown. She has condemned Edward Snowden's whistleblowing as criminal and even suggested that he should face prosecution under the Espionage Act.
One way of grasping where Clinton is coming from is to examine, in her case, what she herself admits is the major corrupting factor in U.S. elections: money. Who funds her? Here's Johnstone:
"Take a look at the list of Clinton Foundation donors who have contributed millions of dollars, supposedly for charity – the sort of charity that begins at home. These are philanthropists who give in order to get. Eight digit donors include: Saudi Arabia, the pro-Israel Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, and the Saban family. Pinchuk has pledged millions to a branch of the Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, for a program to train future Ukrainian leaders according to 'European values.' Seven digit donors include: Kuwait, Exxon Mobil, 'Friends of Saudi Arabia,' James Murdoch, Qatar, Boeing, Dow, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart and the United Arab Emirates. Cheapskates paying their dues to the Clintons with contributions above only half a million include: the Bank of America, Chevron, Monsanto, Citigroup and the inevitable Soros Foundation."
For an example of how Clinton does the bidding of her funders, look at the case of Boeing, examined by the Washington Post.
Does this help explain why Republicans on Wall Street are backing her?
Here's a list of horrible governments to which Hillary supported transferring weaponry once they had donated to her foundations.
Can you get more corrupt that that? Hillary Clinton can. Here's a collection of examples how.
For a deeper understanding of where candidates like Hillary Clinton, her husband, the three Bushes, Obama, and others come from, I also strongly recommend another forthcoming book called Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014, by Laurence Shoup, who co-authored the 1977 book, Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy.
The CFR, according to Shoup, is the world's most powerful private organization. It has about 5,000 individual members and 170 corporate members, a staff of 330, a budget of $60 million, and assets of $492 million. It began at the end of World War I and included both wings of the wealth-and-war party, dedicated to spreading U.S. dominance and influence around the globe for the good of the heathen.
Madeleine Albright brought Bill Clinton into the CFR in the 1980s, and the contacts he made there, in Shoup's view, brought him the media, funding, and insider advisers that made him president, not to mention his post-presidential fortune. Co-Chair of CFR Robert Rubin led Clinton's National Economic Council and his push for NAFTA before being made Secretary of the Treasury and pushing the repeal of Glass-Steagall before moving on to the board of Citigroup -- listed as a major Clinton-foundation funder above. Fifteen of Bill Clinton's top 17 foreign policy officials were, like him, CFR members, five of whom had been or would soon be directors. Daughter Chelsea Clinton became a CFR member in 2013.
What's wrong with CFR broadcasting its views on National Public Radio and holding its elitist meetings with movers and shakers? You might as well ask what's wrong with U.S. foreign policy, because the policy of the past decades has in fact been largely the policy desired, proposed, and enacted by the CFR and its members. And it is not what the U.S. public has wanted.
In 2013, a Pew-CFR effort polled CFR members and the general public. Among the public, 81% wanted protecting U.S. jobs to be a priority, but only 29% of CFR members did. Among CFR members, 93% favored corporate trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a much higher percentage than among the general public believed that drone murders make the United States safer. These results line up with the 2014 peer-reviewed study done at Princeton and Northwestern Universities, which found that the United States is not a democracy, but an "oligarchy," that the demands of the wealthy are met by the government, whereas the desires of everyone else are ignored.
Changing that will require a nonviolent revolution, not a particular outcome from an almost completely corrupted electoral (and communications) system. But with the current corporate media behaving as if we need to know something more about Hillary Clinton before rejecting her, let me just say this to the infinitely annoying plague-like medium known as the email: My Dear emails, you little maggots eating away the minutes of my day, if your scandal rids us of the risk of installing Hillary Clinton in the White House, all shall be forgiven.
David Rothauser is a playwrite, filmmaker, teacher, and peace activist. We discuss his new film, Article 9 Comes to America.
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By David Swanson, teleSUR
The World may be shocked to learn United States government has an Institute of Peace; Orwell would not have been.
Gallup polling finds that much of the world believes the U.S. government to be the greatest threat to peace on earth. It comes as a surprise to many that the U.S. government maintains and funds something called the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) which operates out of a shiny new building near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., a building with a curved roof clearly meant to resemble a dove and yet somehow more closely resembling a giant brassiere.
George Orwell, had he lived to see USIP, might have been less surprised than most. In fact, USIP was created by a law signed by President Ronald Reagan in the year 1984, the year for which Orwell had named his dystopian novel back in 1948, when the U.S. Department of War had just been renamed the Department of Defense, and its mission of offensive war-making had been clearly announced to observers fluent in doublespeak. ”The Orwellian U.S. Institute for Peace is staffed and steered by some of our most committed proponents for war and mayhem, many of whom are in the revolving door between government and military contractors,” Alice Slater tells me. Slater is New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War.
“Instead of supporting efforts for diplomacy and peaceful settlement of disputes,” she continues, “the ill-named Peace Institute advises Congress and the press on how [the United States] can bomb and arm nations around the world. We need to replace the warmakers with peacemakers and have an Institute that really serves the cause of peace in the 21st century when war is so obviously unworkable.”
“...the Institute is designed to further U.S. empire and create a unipolar world where the United States dominates economically, militarily and politically.”
While the Institute of Peace was created in response to pressure from the peace movement, some peace advocates, in the end, opposed its creation, as they saw the writing on the wall. These included Noam Chomsky who, like Francis Boyle and others I very much respect, tell me that they view any effort to reform USIP as hopeless. Meanwhile, many peace activists, even in the United States, have no idea that USIP exists, as it has virtually no interaction with the peace movement. A movement in recent years to create a Department of Peace offers, to my knowledge, no evidence that the fate of such a Department wouldn't resemble that of the Institute.
And yet I believe that envisioning a radically reformed government in which a Department or Institute of Peace could actually work for peace is critical. And I believe there is hope for reforming USIP to the point where it does more good than harm. Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, tells me that “like the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other U.S. agencies, the Institute is designed to further U.S. empire and create a unipolar world where the United States dominates economically, militarily and politically. While people in the U.S. are trying to change this foreign policy, governments around the world should take steps to prevent these agencies from operating within their borders, as they will do all they can to foment dissent and create regime change to ensure governments cooperate fully with the United States and its trans-national corporations.”
Zeese's words are true, and yet USIP does do some work aimed at peace, including hosting speakers and producing publications aimed at peace, sending skilled mediators into conflict zones, making research grants, holding essay contests, and conducting conflict-resolution trainings whenever they do not overly conflict with the goals of U.S. imperialism. The trick is how to expand the good work done by USIP while exposing and opposing the bad.
Toward that end, a group of prominent peace activists has just launched a petition that it plans to deliver to USIP in late September. As the petition makes clear, while USIP claims that it is forbidden to oppose U.S. wars or to lobby against them or to promote peaceful alternatives to contemplated military actions, a careful reading of the 1984 law that created USIP reveals that this just isn't so. In fact, USIP regularly lobbies the rest of the U.S. government and the U.S. public in favor of wars, including the overthrow of the Syrian government -- and occasionally against wars, as in the case of USIP's support for the nuclear agreement with Iran.
“The agreement with Iran provides an excellent opening for USIP to promote the success of negotiations and diplomacy in achieving peace and international understanding,” says Elizabeth Murray, who served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government. “The U.S. Institute of Peace,” she explains, “could lead the way in resolving dangerous international crises by countering corporate media spin on Iran, Russia, Ukraine, and Syria, and by promoting peaceful alternatives to military 'solutions' that benefit few but the corporate-military industry. The world is awash in endless wars, floods of refugees and PTSD-afflicted military veterans. USIP can break this tragic cycle by working actively for peace.”
So it can, at least legally and logically and theoretically. And yet few believe that it will. Preventing USIP from extending the model of diplomacy rather than war to numerous nations other than Iran is, primarily, the inclination of those individuals who make up USIP, including USIP board member and chairman Stephen Hadley, who urges the bombing of Syria and the militarization of Ukraine, while encouraging European nations to double their military spending, and himself profiting from war as a board member of Raytheon. Then there's USIP board member Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary at the Pentagon, who promotes higher military spending, an attack on Iran, and deployment of nuclear weapons to nations on Russia's border. USIP board member Major General Frederick M. Padilla, USMC, is career military as well. The new petition calls for the replacement of these three board members with peace activists, of whom USIP has none on its board.
It will be very interesting to see how USIP engages with those urging it to live up to the straightforward, non-Orwellian meaning of its name.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
We done somethin' we both know it
We don't talk too much about it
Yeah it ain't no real big secret all the same
Somehow we get around it
Iraq wasn't really hiding WMD baby
We believed what we want to believe
You see the wars are what make all the refugees
... the wars are what make all the refugees
Somewhere, somehow somebody
Liberated you from your home
Now you're on the move to survive
Far from the graves of your loved ones
Libya's hell since we killed Gadaffi baby
Everybody's dead or hurt, not free
You see the wars are what make all the refugees
... the wars are what make all the refugees
Baby this ain't the first
Bombs fixed a million lands by making em worse
The latest lie seems real to you
But it's one of those things
You gotta die to make true
Somewhere, somehow somebody
Liberated you from your home
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped
Tied up, taken away and held for ransom
It won't make it on the BBC baby
But everybody's dead or hurt, not free
You see the wars are what make all the refugees
... the wars are what make all the refugees
(apologies to Tom Petty who actually had nothing to do with this)
Initial thoughts on being asked by a journalist just now:
Moldova sits between Ukraine, where the US has helped engineer a coup, and Romania where NATO intends to open new headquarters and engage in new war games. At last year's NATO meeting in Wales a proposal was made to bring Moldova more closely into NATO operations, since which time Moldova has contributed troops to NATO operations in Kosovo, which of course allows NATO greater access to Moldova, despite its wise Constitutional commitment to neutrality. Last year NATO warned that Russia could attack Moldova -- the sort of warning that is likely to be a projection of a NATO desire to occupy Moldova -- something NATO is actually quite open about. It has wanted Moldova in the EU and in corporate trade agreements with the EU -- and Moldova signed such an agreement with the EU last year, in contrast to Ukraine's failure to do so prior to the coup. Six weeks ago the U.S. State Department expressed its support for Moldova's new government and progress toward "EU integration." When a colored revolution develops it makes sense to search for manipulation in the background by the U.S. State Department, USAID, US Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for Democracy, the CIA, etc., but there is no guarantee that it is there. In fact, such revolutions, even when promoted by the U.S. government, have always included numerous well-meaning people with legitimate grievances, and have always inspired people around the world with the power of nonviolent action to effect change. It's possible that the new movement in Moldova is to the U.S. State Department whan Frankenstein's monster was to Dr. Frankenstein -- a creation no longer under its creator's control. It's possible that the people of Moldova are in control of their fate. In any case, we ought to
insist assist them in such and agree on a policy of non-interference by all outside nations and alliances.