David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of World BEYOND War and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Swanson was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation.
Contact email: david at davidswanson dot org
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is the director of World Beyond War, a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace. David is campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org.
David’s books on war and peace include War Is A Lie (a catalog of the types of falsehoods regularly told about wars), War Is Never Just (a refutation of just war theory), and When the World Outlawed War (an account of the 1920s peace movement and the creation of the Kellogg Briand Pact), as well as (co-author) A Global Security System: An Alternative to War (a vision of a world of nonviolent institutions).
David blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts a weekly radio show called Talk Nation Radio. He speaks frequently on the topic of war and peace, and engages in all kinds of nonviolent activism. He recently drafted a resolution urging Congress to move money from the military to human and environmental needs, rather than the reverse. Versions of the resolution were passed by several cities and by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. David also recently organized, with a lot of help from the Backbone Campaign, a flotilla of 50 kayaks that held banners on the Potomac River in front of the Pentagon reading “No wars for oil / No oil for wars.”
David is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Swanson was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation.
David holds a Master’s degree in philosophy from UVA and has long lived and worked in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Since November 2019, Swanson has been a member of the Retirement Commission of the City of Charlottesville, having led in the spring of that year a successful effort to divest the city’s operating budget from fossil fuels and weapons and to persuade the city to commit to doing the same with its retirement fund.
Peace Almanac (2019) — A page and an important fact for each day of the year. This Peace Almanac lets you know important steps, progress, and setbacks in the movement for peace that have taken place on each day of the year. This Peace Almanac should remain good for every year until all war is abolished and sustainable peace established. Profits from sales of the print version fund the work of World BEYOND War.
Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it? (2018) — U.S. exceptionalism, the idea that the United States of America is superior to other nations, is no more fact-based and no less harmful than racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. The purpose of this book is to persuade you of that statement. This book examines how the United States actually compares with other countries, how people think about the comparison, what damage that thinking does, and what changes we might want to consider making.
Co-Author of A Global Security System: An Alternative to War (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018-19).
War Is Never Just (2016) — This book builds a case that the time has come to set behind us the idea that a war can ever be just. This critique of “Just War” theory finds the criteria such theories use to be either unmeasurable, unachievable, or amoral, and the perspective taken too narrow. This book argues that belief in the possibility of a just war does tremendous damage by facilitating enormous investment in war preparations–which strips resources from human and environmental needs while creating momentum for numerous unjust wars.
War Is A Lie: Second Edition (2016) — widely praised best-selling classic. “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.
Killing Is Not a Way of Life (2014) — This is a record of nearly a year’s worth of immediate reactions to the world. These bits of writing originated between January and November of 2014. Topics include the earth, justice, wars, and war culture.
War No More: The Case for Abolition (2013) — This book, with a foreword by Kathy Kelly, presents what numerous reviewers have called the best existing argument for the abolition of war, demonstrating that war can be ended, war should be ended, war is not ending on its own, and that we must end war.
When the World Outlawed War (2011) — Named by Ralph Nader as one of the books from 2011 that everyone should read. This is an inspiring but forgotten story from the 1920s of how people created a treaty to ban all war — a treaty still on the books but not remembered.
Iraq War Among World’s Worst Events (2013) — At 10 years since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation (to use the original name with the appropriate acronym, OIL) and over 22 years since Operation Desert Storm, there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq, or of how these actions compare to other horrors of world history.
Tube World (2012) — This children’s book has received enthusiastically positive reviews from kids and their parents.
The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012) — the most comprehensive collection available explaining what the military industrial complex is, where it comes from, what damage it does, what further destruction it threatens, and what can be done and is being done to chart a different course.
Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union (2009) — “There have now been many books written which chronicle the imperial, lawless presidency of the Bush era, but Swanson’s superb new book — Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union — is one of the very few to examine how we can recover from it and reverse its pernicious trends.” –Glenn Greenwald
The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush (2008) — Now more than ever.
Swanson has a chapter in Bending the Arc: Striving for Peace and Justice in the Age of Endless War. Swanson wrote the Afterword to Murder Incorporated: Empire, Genocide, Manifest Destiny by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria (2019). He also co-wrote A Global Security System: An Alternative to War. He wrote a chapter in The War and Environment Reader, 2017; the foreword to Peace Philosophy and Public Life, 2014; a chapter in Why Peace edited by Marc Guttman, 2012; the foreword to Another Life by Karen Malpede, 2011; two chapters in Fix America, 2011; a chapter in Project Rewire: New Media from the Inside Out by Judy Daubenmier; a chapter called “Flame-Broiled Shark: How Predatory Lending Victims Fought Back and Won,” in The Wealth Inequality Reader by Dollars and Sense and United for a Fair Economy; and the article “2009: Year of the Filibuster” in At Issue: Does the U.S. Two Party System Still Work? published by Gale, a part of Cengage Learning.
Swanson has been published in the Daily Herald, Guardian, teleSUR, the Seattle Times, Baltimore Sun, Washington Examiner, Humanist, MicroMega, Charlottesville Daily Progress, Sojourner’s, Truthout.org, Alternet.org, HuffingtonPost.org, OpEdNews.com, ConsortiumNews.com, CommonDreams.org, AlJazeera.com, TomDispatch.com, and many other publications, and quoted in and reported on in the Nation, In These Times, Progressive, Mother Jones, and other newspapers
In addition to being a frequent contributor to other outlets, Swanson blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org
RADIO AND TV:
In addition to being a frequent guest on other programs, Swanson hosts the weekly syndicated show Talk Nation Radio. He has hosted other programs on Pacifica, and a long-running show on The People Speak Radio. Swanson has been interviewed on CNN, PBS, C-Span, Democracy Now!, Free Speech TV, Fox, MSNBC, Link TV, RealNews.com, RT, Press TV, and others. In 2005 Swanson provided regular weekly commentary on the Thom Hartmann Show.
January 2014 –
Executive Director of World Beyond War ( WorldBeyondWar.org ).
March 2011 –
Campaign Coordinator for Roots Action ( RootsAction.org ).
February 2012 –
Host and producer of Talk Nation Radio ( TalkNationRadio.org ).
Worked part-time for Stand Up For Truth ( StandUpForTruth.org ).
March 2015 – 2016
Worked part-time for Just World Books ( JustWorldBooks.com ).
May 2005 – 2015
Cofounder and Coordinator of After Downing Street (AfterDowningStreet.org, renamed WarIsACrime.org), a coalition of dozens of organizations that forced the Downing Street Memo and other evidence into the media and sought accountability for the fraudulent marketing of the war on Iraq. (Work funded by Democrats.com.) AfterDowningStreet was named a Most Valuable Progressive by the Nation Magazine‘s John Nichols in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Mid 1990s –
Blogger at DavidSwanson.org.
2013 – 2014
Part-time work for and member of Communications Committee of Veterans For Peace.
2009 – 2010
Online organizer and blogger for Free Speech for People: FreeSpeechForPeople.org
2005 – 2009
Washington Director of Democrats.com
March – April 2005
Creator and Coordinator of DebtSlavery.org, a coalition opposing the bankruptcy bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Members of the coalition included: Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, AFL-CIO, the Nation, National Organization for Women, American Progress Action Fund, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, People’s Email Network, Public Citizen, Democracy Week, BlackCommentator, Thom Hartmann Show, Milwaukee Labor Press, Politology, FlyBy News, Billionaires for Bush, Evans Media USA, Take Back America, United Progressives for Democracy, Rapid Response Network, Public Campaign Action Fund, Progressive Populist, ACORN, Drum Major Institute, Campaign for America’s Future, American Center for International Law, and MoveOn.org. (Work funded by Democrats.com.)
2004 – 2005
Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA).
Swanson recruited members, built alliances, spoke at conferences, spoke on radio shows, created and maintained a website and an Email newsletter, wrote and published articles and position papers, laid out hardcopy newsletters and brochures, sold advertising, organized panels and events, recruited judges and helped run contests, hired and managed interns, developed training materials, assisted labor media outlets with their work, and strategized to develop larger and more democratic labor media.
2003 – 2004
Press Secretary for Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign.
Swanson served as the primary media spokesperson, wrote the press releases, served as editor of the website, oversaw the development of responses to written questionnaires from the media and of new policy positions. He spoke at public events and represented the candidate in debates and forums. He gave print, internet, television, and radio interviews. He also wrote the campaign’s regular Emails to supporters nationally and in particular states, developed web tools for supporters, developed and edited flyers and handouts and advertisements, and worked closely with endorsers of the campaign. He had a national communications staff of a half-dozen paid employees and worked closely with paid and volunteer communications staff in each state.
2000 – 2003
Communications Coordinator for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
Swanson developed relationships with reporters and contributed to many successful campaigns through aggressive use of the media. He wrote press advisories, press releases, testimony for hearings, letters to editors, op-eds, newspaper articles, public service announcements, speeches, advertisements, website content, an Email newsletter, fact sheets, flyers, brochures, sample letters to elected officials, book chapters, and cover letters for packets of press clips mailed to funders. He assisted with the writing of lengthy reports. He appeared on national television programs, conducted workshops, door-knocked, phone-banked, worked polling stations, conducted media skills trainings, and engaged in a very wide range of other duties. He managed a staff of three interns. He helped increase ACORN’s national profile as well as making strategic use of targeted media in numerous local campaigns.
Labor reporter at the Bureau of National Affairs.
Swanson wrote for two newsletters, the Union Labor Report and the Bulletin to Management, printed by the Bureau of National Affairs. He belonged to the Baltimore-Washington Newspaper Guild, Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO.
1999 – 2000
Reporter and Online Editor for the Culpeper News
Swanson worked as a full-time reporter at the Culpeper News, a weekly newspaper in Culpeper, Va. Duties included researching, reporting, photographing, writing editorials and columns, and proofreading. He also served as the online editor, putting selected articles and images on the internet. He also served as editor for the print version when the regular editor was away. He reported on DNA testing in a questionable capital conviction (winning Second Prize from the Virginia Press Association for a series of news articles for 2000), opposition to the application of sewage sludge to farmland, county and town politics, high school sports, an airplane crash, changes in college and vocational education opportunities, the encroachment of Northern Virginia sprawl on Central Virginia, local artists and entrepreneurs, changes in social services and poverty, treatments for substance abusers, treatments for abused children, and skateboarding, among much else.
Swanson helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. Swanson was the organizer in 2006 of Camp Democracy.
Swanson has served as a board member of the Backbone Campaign, Voters for Peace, and the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, and as chair of the Robert Jackson Steering Committee. Swanson joined the board of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy in December 2011. He has served on the U.S. National Committee of the War Resisters League. He has served on the steering committee of the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice (2006-2008).
Swanson has been Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.
He received a Beacon of Peace award from the Eisenhower Chapter of Veterans For Peace in 2012, and other awards from U.S. and Nepali organizations.
Swanson has been included in a list of 100 living peace and justice activists by Transcend Media.
Swanson has his portrait painted and included in Americans Who Tell The Truth by Robert Shetterly.
Swanson has for years serves as a judge in the annual labor media contest overseen by the International Labor Communications Association.
In April and May 2007, Swanson consulted part-time for Kucinich for President 2008.
While at the ILCA, and afterwards as a freelance member, Swanson served on the Executive Council of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA, AFL-CIO, http://wbng.org.
Swanson has created and hosted websites for numerous organizations. In 2011, he created a website for a campaign to reform the EPA at http://eparafaelmustgo.org. In 2009, he created a website for CODE PINK and Global Exchange to market a company investing in wind energy in Iran: http://windsofchangeiran.com and another website for Cindy Sheehan’s counter recruitment effort: http://nomorecannonfodder.org He also created a website for a book by Les Leopold: http://lootingofamerica.org and a website for the Robert Jackson Steering Committee. Also these: http://protectourelections.org and http://charlottesvillepeace.org and http://acpjva.org and http://www.vawn.org and many others, including sites for short-lived campaigns like this one http://johnsonmustgo.org
Master’s in Philosophy from University of Virginia: From 1994 to 1996 Swanson earned a Master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia (despite never having completed a Bachelor’s). He was a member of UVA’s Washington Literary and Debate Society, and wrote for a student publication, Critical Mass.
TEFLA Certificate from Cambridge
In 1992 Swanson earned a Royal Society of the Arts, Cambridge, Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults.
Architecture School, Pratt Institute, 1989-1990
Swanson attended Pratt Institute School of Architecture in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he wrote for Pratt’s student newspaper.
Architecture School, University of North Carolina, 1988-1989
Swanson attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte School of Architecture. He served as vice president of the freshman male dormitory at UNC-Charlotte.
Exchange Student in Italy, 1987-1988
Swanson was a Rotarian exchange student at Q.U.S. Liceo Linguistico (High School for Language Studies) in Bassano del Grappa, Italy.
High School Diploma, 1983-1987
Swanson earned a diploma at Herndon High School in Herndon, Va.
“David Swanson is a truth-teller and witness-bearer whose voice and action warrant our attention.” —Cornel West, author.
“David Swanson is the most consistently great writer of this generation.” —Jean Athey.
“The world needs more true advocates of democracy like David Swanson!” —Thom Hartmann, radio host.
“David Swanson will be remembered and well recognized as the citizen who held up a lamp in the darkness and cried, as did good Tom Paine: ‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.'” —John Nichols, columnist, The Nation.
“David Swanson predicates his belief that nonviolence can change the world on careful research and historical analysis.” —Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
“David Swanson’s War Is A Lie may be the most comprehensive antiwar statement available in the English language.” —Kevin Young, Znet.
“Our times cry out for a smart, witty and courageous Populist who hasn’t forgotten how to play offense. Luckily we have David Swanson.” —Mike Ferner, President of Veterans For Peace.
“David Swanson, who has been a one-man wonder leading the charge for accountability, writes a compelling narrative that inspires not just outrage, but ACTION.” —Medea Benjamin, Code Pink and Global Exchange.
“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.
“David Swanson’s book is a masterful exposure of the emergence of a monarch-like president coupled with an effete, irresponsible, and constitutionally ignorant Congress.” —Bruce Fein, former Associate Deputy Attorney General.
“David Swanson has written a fascinating account of how peace once became the law of the land. It is particularly pertinent in the era of the Endless War, by giving encouragement and suggestions of a path forward to those who want to give peace a chance.” —Liz Holtzman, former member of the U.S. Congress.
“Swanson’s book is far more uplifting and inspiring than virtually any other book in its genre, as it devotes itself to laying out a detailed plan for how American citizens — through the activism to which he has devoted himself — can bring about a rejuvenation of our political values.” —Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com.
“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.
“Let me add my thanks and congratulations to those others for this profound and passionate statement. You are a VERY valuable American, and human being.” —Daniel Ellsberg
“David Swanson writes faster than anyone I know, and is always worth reading. He wields a wicked pen (well, technically a wicked keyboard), a la Swift or Twain. He thinks with precision and intelligence, with the powerful logic of an undefeated chess-playing computer program. He is fearless, speaking truth to both power all the time. He bears daily witness to the decomposition of our would-be democracy, and he carries that same crusading spirit into this book. Read it. Buy it for your friends, especially your younger ones. Get together and argue about it. Ask John Stewart and Stephen Colbert to have him on their shows. Because a better world is still possible, and to get there, a more democratic America is necessary.” —Steve Cobble
“I was just on a 10-day speaking tour in England, Wales and Scotland. While there, during the Q & A’s after my talks, people would ask me what is going on in the U.S. They would say they hear nothing about the peace movement in their country. I told them to check your web site. I told them it was the best place to find out what is going on at the grassroots level in the U.S. I told them I check it 3 times a day. It was good to have your site as a resource to refer to. Best wishes.” —Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
“David Swanson, Tim Carpenter, and friends took the evidence of deliberate pre-war intelligence manipulation and made it their mission for truth and accountability. While the mainstream first helped lead us into war and then ignored stories of the blatant lies of this administration, ADS kept the pressure on and in doing so grew into a movement of conscience. I am proud to lend my name and my time in support of this wonderful group of people who through their hard work took the facts and fixed them into open debate – something of a rare commodity these days.” —Larisa Alexandrovna, journalist, writer
“AfterDowningStreet.org has been the movement hub for Executive Branch accountability. David Swanson and all the folks associated with the ADS coalition have modeled a spirit of collaboration, intelligent analysis, and strategic action. In our collective effort to pull this country out of a Constitutional crisis, brought on by an administration infected with a blatant disregard for the balance of powers, not to mention the truth, we could ask for no better partner than AfterDowningStreet.org.” —Bill Moyer, Executive Director, Backbone Campaign
In December 2011, The Hook newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., named Swanson a runner-up Person of the Year:
When conservatives hear progressive political activist David Swanson coming, they might want to run away. But sometimes, they do so quite literally. After Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to speak at the Miller Center on November 16, Swanson publicly called for Cheney’s arrest for conspiracy to commit torture. “Were a local resident credibly accused of torture, I sincerely doubt you would hesitate to seek his or her immediate arrest and indictment,” Swanson wrote in a November 14 letter emailed to Charlottesville and Albemarle law enforcement and posted on his website, warisacrime.org. Mere hours later, the Miller Center announced that Cheney’s visit would be postponed for “personal reasons” and that he’d reschedule for early next year. Coincidence? Perhaps. But either way, Swanson will undoubtedly lead the welcome parade if the former Veep appears.
The Charlottesville Daily Progress published a profile of Swanson on March 18, 2008, which said:
“For Swanson, advocating for a withdrawal from Iraq is not just passion – it’s a living. Swanson is paid to help run Democrats.com, an “aggressive” progressive Web site, as well as working for myriad other antiwar groups. Additionally, he created a Web site for renowned activist Cindy Sheehan when she first gained notoriety. Swanson immersed himself in activism while a graduate student at the University of Virginia in the mid-1990s, when he worked on the living wage campaign. After a brief career in journalism, he became a communication specialist for labor organizations. Now, though, he coordinates antiwar activities across the country from his house.”