10 Ways We Pretend War Is Not a Crime and How to Change Them

August 27, 2019, remarks, Chicago

By David Swanson

Happy Kellogg-Briand Pact Day! As you all know, but most people do not, the Peace Pact was signed 91 years ago today. And, as you all probably know, but most people do not, the inspiration and vision and endless labor behind it came from a mass movement begun and led, not by Mr. Kellogg or Monsieur Briand but by a lawyer from Chicago named Salmon Oliver Levinson. You could point that out to Minnesotans from Frank Kellogg’s Twin Cities if, read more

The Myths, the Silence, and the Propaganda That Keep Nuclear Weapons in Existence

Remarks in Poulsbo, Washington, August 4, 2019

This week, 74 years ago, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were each hit with a single nuclear bomb that had the power of a third to a half of what NPR calls a low-yield or “usable” weapon. By NPR I mean both the Nuclear Posture Review and National Public Radio, both the U.S. government and what many people dangerously think of as a free press. These so-called usable nukes are for firing from the submarines based nearby here. They are read more

War on Iran Stupidest Idea Yet Recorded in a Human Brain

Scientists not employed by ExxonMobil or named Neil DeGrasse Tyson have reached a universal consensus. Wanting the United States to attack Iran is the single stupidest idea yet recorded in a human brain. In the words of one, “It isn’t even close.”

In a peer-reviewed report on a controlled laboratory experiment, sample humans were presented with the following 12 items of information.

  1. Iran is nowhere near the United States, has no ability to attack the United States, has not threatened to attack the United States, has not started a war in literally centuries, and spends less than 2 percent what the United States does on war preparations. Defending the United States and its “interests” from Iran just means defending the other disastrous wars that are already underway and near Iran.
  2. Iran has no nuclear weapons program, yet agreed to extreme inspections never agreed to by any other country, and complied with the agreement, but Donald Trump tore the agreement up in between his morning pop tarts and viewing Fox News encouragement of separating children from their parents and locking them in cages.
  3. The United States has taken countless steps to threaten and provoke Iran, including the extreme crime of threatening war.
  4. A war on Iran could involve attacks on nuclear energy facilities, the use of nuclear weapons, the creation of a nuclear winter, and global human starvation, and is certain to involve large numbers of people killed, injured, traumatized, and made homeless — for which they would be blamed by those eager to spin the vicious cycle of hatred, war, and hatred forward.
  5. Other benefits of a war on Iran would likely include: massive environmental and climate destruction, erosion of rights in the United States, major defunding of human needs, increased racism and xenophobia, and deadly blowback against people you’re supposed to care about in the United States, Israel, and Europe — well, that and making all the other recent wars look less catastrophic by comparison.
  6. Every moment the United States spends pursuing this barbaric madness is a moment spent allowing the earth’s climate to lock in greater catastrophe in the years to come.
  7. War, like threatening war, is a crime. It is the greatest crime.
  8. The fact that Iran has a deeply flawed government is a truly insane thing to imagine is relevant here. Almost every nation on earth has a deeply flawed government, and the United States arms and trains most of them. The United States *is* a deeply flawed government, and few people there believe they would benefit from being bombed. None of the nations the United States has previously bombed, supposedly for having bad governments, has benefitted.
  9. Speaking of Germany and Japan — which your mind has just leaped to in order to avoid thinking about Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Panama, Granada, and so forth — the millions killed cannot speak, but the current governments of Germany and Japan — voluntarily occupied nations devoid of self-respect, backing wars in violation of their Constitutions, and licking the shoes of Emperor Trump — Germany and Japan say attacking Iran would be too crazy for them.
  10. We can’t believe we’re having to inform you of this, but . . . excuses for wars are not actually justifications. If Iraq had really had weapons, or Vietnam had really returned fire off its coast, or Gadaffi had really threatened a massacre and handed out Viagra, or babies had really been taken out of incubators, and so forth, exactly zero instances of mass bombings of human beings would have been actually justified. The degree of incompetence in the forming of an excuse is not the interesting question that corporate communications companies pretend. Dubya was a hack, Obama was quite skilled, Trump doesn’t even bother trying, and you and I should not care. You can’t blow up a shopping mall because someone shoplifted. And if you do, nobody is going to think all the media attention should focus on evidence of the shoplifting.
  11. The following is irrelevant (see #10 above), but we accept that you have been brainwashed way past the point of being able to grasp that. The Iran-attacked-a-boat excuse is
    A) Not a justification for a war, but for a criminal investigation.
    B) Laughably incompetent, almost as bad as if they weren’t really concerned with fooling anyone. First they claimed to know Iran was guilty because of the type of mine used, and then it became clear that no mines were used — rather as in the U.S.S. Maine incident in 1898, which somebody may possibly have taken a bet he couldn’t reproduce.
  12. John Bolton’s primary qualification for his job is the lies he told about Iraq. Mike Pompeo openly brags about lying as central to his career experience. Donald Trump may never have knowingly and intentionally told the truth in his life. Every past war has been based on lies, and creative lies to start a war on Iran have been generated for decades.

In certain humans, presented with these items of information, scientists were able to record, not read more

Don’t Iraq Iran

If Iran had spent the last few decades lying about and threatening the United States, and had attacked and built military bases in Canada and Mexico, and had imposed sanctions on the United States that were creating great suffering, and then a lying scheming war-crazed Iranian official announced that he believed the United States had put some missiles on some fishing boats in the Chesapeake Bay, would you believe that . . .

a) The United States was a dangerous rogue state threatening Iran with read more

High School Students and Peace Making

Remarks at Student Peace Awards of Fairfax County, Va., March 10, 2019

By David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War

Thank you for inviting me here. I’m honored. And I’m reminded of lots of happy memories of Herndon High School, class of 87. If there was encouragement back then to take on the sort of projects that our honorees today have taken on, I missed it. I suspect that some improvements have been made in high school education since my day. Yet I did manage to learn a lot at Herndon, and read more

Humanitarian Bombs

One should not sell bombs to a government that abuses human rights, which means murders a man without using one of the bombs.

If Saudi Arabia had murdered a man using a bomb, it would be fine to sell Saudi Arabia more bombs.

But Saudi Arabia murdered with a non-bomb weapon, and so shouldn’t have bombs anymore.

One should, in fact, bomb people whose government abuses human rights, which means murders children without using bombs.

Syria allegedly killed children using chemical weapons, and so read more

Russia Is Our Friend

Last May I was in Russia when fascists held a rally in my hometown of Charlottesville, not to be confused with their larger rally which followed in August. At the May rally, people shouted “Russia is our friend.” I was on a Russian TV show called Crosstalk the next day and discussed this. I also discussed it with other Russians, actual friends in the human sense. Some of them were completely bewildered, read more

Altruism and Sadism in Public Policy

By David Swanson
Remarks at Peace Resource Center of San Diego, June 23, 2018.

There are three things that are almost always underestimated: the U.S. military budget, altruism, and sadism.

First, the military budget.

The U.S. military budget, including all things military in various departments, is roughly 60% of federal discretionary spending, meaning the spending that Congress members decide on each year. It is also, by my very rough estimate, the topic of well under 1% of the discussions of government read more

The Case Against Iraqing Iran

The case against Iraqing Iran includes the following points:

Threatening war is a violation of the U.N. Charter.

Waging war is a violation of the U.N. Charter and of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Waging war without Congress is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Have you seen Iraq lately?

Have you seen the entire region?

Have you seen Afghanistan? Libya? Syria? Yemen? Pakistan? Somalia?

War supporters said the U.S. urgently needed to attack Iran in 2007. It did not attack. The claims turned out to be lies. read more

When a Nuclear War Planner Confesses

Daniel Ellsberg’s new book is The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. I’ve known the author for years, I’m prouder than ever to say. We have done speaking events and media interviews together. We’ve been arrested together protesting wars. We’ve publicly debated electoral politics. We’ve privately debated the justness of World War II. (Dan approves of U.S. entry into World War II, and it seems into the war on Korea as well, though he has nothing but condemnation read more