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WAR IS A LIE is a thorough refutation of every major argument used to justify wars, drawing on evidence from numerous past wars, with a focus on those wars that have been most widely defended as just and good. This is a handbook of sorts, a manual to be used in debunking future lies before future wars have a chance to begin.
"David Swanson’s War Is A Lie (Charlottesville, VA, 2010) may be the most comprehensive antiwar statement available in the English language." — Kevin Young, ZNet
“David Swanson despises war and lying, and unmasks them both with rare intelligence. I learn something new on every page.” — Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR and author of Cable News Confidential.
"There are three insightful books I've read that explain how and why no good can come of the current U.S. reliance on military force and war in seeking its desired 'Pax Americana': War Is A Racket by General Smedley Butler; War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges, and War Is A Lie by David Swanson." — Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent, whistleblower, and Time magazine person of the year.
Table of Contents Introduction 7 1. Wars Are Not Fought Against Evil 15 2. Wars Are Not Launched in Defense 47 3. Wars Are Not Waged Out of Generosity 86 4. Wars Are Not Unavoidable 106 5. Warriors Are Not Heroes 131 6. War Makers Do Not Have Noble Motives 168 7. Wars Are Not Prolonged for the Good of Soldiers 196 8. Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields 212 9. Wars Are Not Won, and Are Not Ended By Enlarging Them 235 10. War News Does Not Come From Disinterested Observers 250 11. War Does Not Bring Security and Is Not Sustainable 267 12. Wars Are Not Legal 291 13. Wars Cannot Be Both Planned and Avoided 312 14. War Is Over If You Want It 323 Notes 337 Index 352 Acknowledgments 369 About the Author 371
Praise: "If you stop and think, and genuinely wonder; and long for a new, better world, I urge you to read a book I've just finished. It's self-published, brilliantly and passionately written, and while being truthful is full of hope of destroying the military-industrial-media-congressional-imperialpresidential-complex. It's "War Is A Lie" by David Swanson." - Mumia Abu-Jamal.
"If decisions to go to war were really made on the basis of reason and facts, rather than greed and power, David Swanson's brilliant new book would put a stop to them. Those of us who know David understand that he writes quickly and eloquently, speaks honestly and powerfully, and follows a logical point all the way to its conclusion. He has a philosopher's mind with a computer's precision. And he always maintains a justifiable moral outrage at the lies of the war criminals -- calling out their crimes, detailing their carnage, poking holes in their excuses. Reading 'War Is a Lie' is like reading Mark Twain's 'War Prayer,' only in book form." — Steve Cobble, IPS Associate Fellow, PDA co-founder, AfterDowningStreet.org co-founder, Jackson & Kucinich campaign advisor.
“While Americans elect leaders whom they trust are honest, truthful and really care about the kids they send to kill for our country, War Is A Lie reveals decade after decade the sordid side of our history — that our elected officials lie us into war with stunning and embarrassing regularity and are little concerned about the harm to innocent civilians, much less to members of our own military.” — Colonel (retired) Ann Wright, author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience. “This book is every American’s best defense against the greatest danger we face as human beings: the threat of war. Swanson reveals how American leaders (from both major political parties) have confused the public to create the illusion of consent for endless destruction and slaughter. Behind the fear-mongering, flag-waving and lies of George W. Bush and the blandishments of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama lies the ugly reality that our leaders have been seduced by political ambition, delusions of military superiority, and the promise of secrecy and impunity to commit otherwise unthinkable crimes.” — Nicolas J. S. Davies, Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.
“David Swanson is an antidote to the toxins of complacency and evasion. He insists on rousing the sleepwalkers, confronting the deadly prevaricators and shining a bright light on possibilities for a truly better world.” — Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.
"This book is revolutionary, and certainly truth-telling in a remarkable and brave way. The writing is so clear and easy-to-read, too. A pleasure to read, except that the content is so devastating, because it all means that not only are we utterly deceived but our entire reality is based on that deception. Swanson has gotten to the core of something. The only thing is I'm not sure he realizes how hopeless it is to expect a change -- and yet that is part of the appeal of his writing: his hopefulness in the face of lies and repression and denial." — Jennifer Van Bergen, author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America.
“War Is A Lie is an important and compelling book that arrives at a time when America is engaged in its longest running war to date. Swanson offers an incisive examination of the rationalizations, justifications, and outright lies that have led the United States, and other nations, into battle. And he shows the personal cost to the current generation of combatants returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” — Cynthia Wachtell, author of War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature 1861-1914.
“David Swanson has taken the mantle of AJ Muste, who had the guts and the audacity to declare World War II to have been unnecessary and wrong. Swanson takes Muste’s argument further to make the audacious claim that all wars are not just unnecessary, but a crime. He is correct, of course. Just as no good outcome (whether the ouster of a tyrant or the freeing of captive nations) can compensate for the death of millions of innocents, which of course is the argument made in defense of calling World War II a ‘good’ war, no good (whether the ousting of a tyrant or the claimed improvement in the rights of oppressed women) can compensate for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq or of tens of thousands of innocents in Afghanistan. This is a book that every American should read, especially those who think the United States is the good guy.” — Dave Lindorff , journalist, author of The Case for Impeachment, and founder of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!
About the Publication and Sale: I'm making the book available at little more than cost (including shipping cost), so that peace and justice groups can buy it in bulk and sell it for their own profit or distribute it at events or outside recruiting stations. If you buy 10 or more through this website, the price is only $10 each (which covers shipping too), half the list price.
You can also keep one and give nine great holiday gifts to friends and elected representatives.
I've turned down three major publishers who wanted to publish this book in 2011 or 2012 in order to publish it myself in 2010. Self-publishing avoids huge delays and allows more of the profit to go to the author. Purchasing this book supports my work, not a corporation. ________________________________________
I discuss the new book in this radio interview with Coy Barefoot: Listen here. And this additional one with Coy Barefoot: Listen here. Also this one with Bob Connors and Don Thompson: Listen here. Another from OpEdNews: Listen here. Here's one from Antiwar.com: Listen here. And the FireDogLake Book Salon is archived here. Here's audio from KPFK's World Focus: Listen here. Here's an interview on KOPN: Listen here. Here's a lengthy interview on Radio Active Lunch: Listen here. Here's an hour with Christianne Brown: Listen here. Deanna Spingola was an informed host with good calls from listeners. This audio is choppy for first 30 seconds or so, just speed past that: mp3. ________________________________________
Listen to Thom Hartmann tell a caller he needs to read this book: mp3.
Catch Thom's conversation with David Swanson between the 10:00 and 16:00 minute marks in this video:
"War is a Lie is a must read for anyone who wants to break the centuries-long cycle of a perennially war-waging United States. In this carefully researched book, Mr. Swanson exposes the falsehoods that a willing government sells to a gullible public to gain support for one unnecessary war after another. The profit motives, power plays and perennial chest-thumping, that have all been given more importance than human lives, are exposed in all their ugliness. "The lie of a Department of ‘Defense’ is laid bare; there has been little, if any, defensive maneuvering by the U.S. military since its own violent birth. The empire-building that the U.S. criticizes in the name of citizen democracy is exposed as a main motivation for the U.S.’s many wars. "With facts, figures and a clear and engaging writing style, Mr. Swanson cuts through the fog of government rhetoric to expose the reality of why the U.S. is constantly at war. War is a Lie will enable peace activists to ask questions of the U.S.’s so-called representatives that they will simply be unable to answer. Additionally, this book should be required reading in every high school history class in the country." — Robert Fantina, author: "Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 – 2006."
"David Swanson is a fearless and tireless advocate of peace and works ceaselessly to unmask the mechanisms that keep us perennially at war." — Russ Baker, author of "Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years."
"Activist David Swanson is well respected in the anti-war community as a man who walks his talk in a bold, committed, solid way, that he is a principled leader. Now we must add to that list of credentials authorship of an important, destined to be classic book. 'War Is A Lie' addresses the web of lies, the taboo subjects, the false claims, the mythic messages that are hollow and empty and it lays waste to them. Swanson's book is a (I've never used the term to describe a book before) Tour de Force, an intellectual accomplishment that lays out the truths about war and the lies that support in a way that every peace activist, every anti-war organization and group must digest and frankly, use as the tools to take the arguments against war to a new more effective level. If there are awards for brilliant books that explode new ways to oppose the evils of this world, then David should sweep the field this year. One more thing. It is an exceptional accomplishment to present a book with such important ideas. It is another thing to write extraordinarily well, so, on page after page, the words are quotable, rising off the page with vivacity." — Rob Kall, creator of http://opednews.com.
"You don't believe in war, but can you articulate your reasons? What if someone challenges your position? Can you defend it? Suppose someone told you that spending for the military is good for the economy? What if they agreed that war is generally bad – but there are exceptions, such as the 'good war' against Hitler and Japan, or even the 'war on terror'? How about the notion that war makes us more secure? David Swanson's new book, War Is A Lie, provides answers to these questions and more. In 336 pages, he debunks every argument you've heard used to justify, glorify, instigate, promote, prolong, and expand war." — Kim Carlyle, War Crimes Times.
"Keep it simple stupid or KISS has been shouted at nearly every Private in every army for decades, hell even maybe centuries and with War is a Lie David Swanson KISSes near perfection. Not since General Smedley Butler's War is a Racket has a simpler, more brilliant, or truer book been published. The simple truth is that war is a lie! From the lies that are told to get countries into war, to the lies told to young men (traditionally though this is changing) to fight them, to the lies we are told about how wars are fought, to the lies we are told as they end so that another generation can have it's war in a few short years. Swanson captures these lies brilliantly from start to finish in his newest book." — Geoffrey Millard, Iraq Veterans Against the War.
"It was a Republican U.S. senator, Hiram Johnson of California, who is credited with coining the phrase: 'The first casualty when war comes is truth.' ... Were he serving in the Senate now, Hiram Johnson would go to the floor of the Senate, hold up a copy of David Swanson’s essential new book and demand that the chamber and the whole of the American people recognize the reality of its title: War Is a Lie." — John Nichols, The Nation.
"In War Is a Lie, David Swanson underscores a vital point that has been ignored by far too many people who hoped President Obama and the Democrats would bring about a break from the disastrous policies of the Bush years: 'we can't sit in elected officials' offices demanding peace while promising to vote for them, no matter what they do - not if we expect to be heard.' He shows how Democrats historically -- and President Obama today -- are part of the toxic bipartisan consensus that sustains repeated military intervention, at enormous and mounting cost to the world. And he importantly reminds us that it will take mobilize, active, engaged popular movements to change a status quo that will lead to only more wars." — Anthony Arnove, author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal.
"In 'War is a Lie' David Swanson carves himself a monumental task: to prove the truth of this in every historical instance for which background is available. He accomplishes his task, with a weight of evidence which can only be described as devastating. Swanson sets forth a deceptively simple yet provocative thesis: War is never the only choice, and always the worst one." — Ralph Lopez.
"David Swanson writes in the tradition of Howard Zinn. He always goes for clarity, both in his relentless orchestration of the facts and his ethical vision. War Is A LIe is as clear as the title. Wars are all based on lies, could not be fought without lies, and would not be fought at all if people held their governments to any reasonable standard of honesty. The book is easy to understand, easy to read, if you have the will to face a vast array of facts that hold the United States government to a reasonable standard of honesty." — Charles M. Young.
"War Is A Lie is a book that belongs on the bookshelf or the bedside-table of every American, with pages dog-eared for future reference, and choice passages marked or highlighted. You can reach for it as a shield against lies and hypocrisy during Presidential speeches or as you watch Congressional committee hearings on C-SPAN, or wherever mythological versions of history are trotted out to justify policies or actions that threaten human life. If enough Americans read this book, it will give us the collective power to stand up to our warmongering leaders by disarming the most powerful and destructive of all their weapons: their lies." — Nicolas Davies.
"Swanson's penetrating analysis of the lies behind wars, backed by his extensive historical knowledge, shine a light not only on the destructive wars but on the irrational, delusional thinking and propaganda that starts and prolongs them and leads to so much death, destruction, and suffering. In the last chapter he also gives peace activists hope and some practical means to overcome the Scourge of War and build a more peaceful world for the children. Let's hope this book gets wide circulation. Swanson is an inspiration to all of us with his tireless energy in educating and motivating people that a better world of peace and justice is possible. If we work together we can make it happen." — Jay Kvale, member of the Minnesota Peace Project.
"I've been reading a bit of this book every night since I got it. The effect it's having on me is hard to explain. Like I've been born into a cult whether or not I want it, but now the lies are being washed away by the rain. Bringing down the rain of truth, that's something. Trapped people, taken hostage, facing death, if they want to live, they start to agree with their captors, their oppressors - they start playing their game, thinking what they're told to think, seeing what they're told to see. The Stockholm Syndrome, that's something. The grieving mother takes home the folded flag. You think she'd take a match and watch it burn. But she sets it in a place of honor in a plastic bag. Don't even approach her about it, she'll never learn. Honoring the thing that kills you, that's something." — John Bostrom
"When you signed my copy at the Charlottesville, VA reading/signing you asked me to let you know what I thought of War is a Lie. I just finished reading it. Excellent, comprehensive and well written. Great manual for spotting the lies and countering arguments for war. Just what I needed after a discouraging campaign season to get me charged up and back in the peacemaking game. Thanks for broadening our knowledge and telling what needed to be told." — Harry Davis
"Well, here we are in the 21st century of the Common Era, and given the violent history of the past decade, evidently the arguments about the disutility of warfare still need to be made, again and again and again... Depressing, really. But thank goodness David Swanson has taken up the effort. Buy the book!" — Helena Cobban
"David Swanson’s new book has given me a fresh perspective on a topic I’ve dedicated my life to: America’s war culture and its ever-nuanced fall out. Economic collapse, pollution, dependence on fossil fuels, even global warming: you can’t begin to fathom our predicaments until you conceive of the American War monster. Swanson rips away the public relations/advertising of this military industrial giant to show its true cancerous colors. Read slowly, America. This is a powerful mirror for those still clinging to our media distortions. It’s an indictment of a culture grown dependent on, and distorted by the machinery of violence. But there is a compassion, an empathy to the author’s tone. We are all victims, Swanson argues. We are a people kept blind to the true costs, the human tragedies, by the never ending lie of war." -Charles Bivona
"I am less than halfway through the book - and - I am learning so much! I consider myself very well read, a student of history, TV-free for over 14 years, etc. etc. - but - your book is a revelation. I've known for decades that the history we were fed in school is nothing but propaganda and lies, but the information in your book takes that to a whole new level. I have told people to read your book and that I rate its importance, for what it reveals about the mendacity of scholars, historians, the liberal class, politicians and propagandists, up there with Zinn's People's History. I'm serious about that - I don't say it lightly. Thank you for writing this book. I hope sales are going better than you expected. "I am telling people about the book and making sure that when I’m reading it in a public place people see the title. I’ve had a couple people approach me, so I’ve been happy to tell them about such an important work. My husband is an artist and focused on his work (landscapes in oils) but I read him a lot of things that I read – and last night while he was making dinner, I read excerpts – things he didn’t know either. He wants me to read him more – which I will happily do! I’ve been reading it at lunch and in what little free time I have in the evenings and weekends – which isn’t much. "My proverbial hat is off to you, David. I’m really impressed. Of course, I thought it would be another good and valuable addition to 'left' literature, but it is proving to be much more than that to me. I strongly feel the facts you have revealed are intrinsic to Americans’ understanding of our real history – history which is forgotten, deliberately hidden and covered with the propaganda masquerading as history in our schools. I have an awful feeling that your book may not have a wide readership – which it certainly should – because of how books are marketed these days and the problems inherent within the publishing industry. I’m doing what little I can do alert people to its value and importance. And I’m not even quite halfway through yet!" -- Maria Allwine
"It's been a week since I finished "War Is A Lie," and I can't stop thinking/talking about it.... Everyone in my life is getting a copy for their b-day this year and I'm composing a letter to the editor of every major paper in ID. I'm also working w/ a local organization to contact you to come speak here and hoefully other places in ID. (although this is a blue county, unfortunately, this is the reddest of states as a whole). Thank you for rocking my world." -- Kim Mazik
Video: Lies and War on Libya in Context - David Swanson
This speech was given in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 20, 2011. Dahlia Wasfi and Dave Lindorff spoke as well and then the three speakers took questions together. (See additional videos.) The event was organized by June Eisley and sponsored by Pacem in Terris.