WAR NO MORE: The Case for Abolition

This book by David Swanson, 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.

The paperback is available at all the usual online and real world book sellers. (184 pages, list price $15 US) Here it is on Powells, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The book ships right away when ordered, even if Amazon says otherwise; it is print-on-demand. It’s below at a discount when you buy 10 or more.

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Advance Praise for War No More:

“As skeptical as I try to be as a reader, I find myself overwhelmed by the force of David Swanson’s arguments and the startling facts that are on every page. Anyone who abhors war will be inspired by this book.” —Jeff Cohen, author

“Once again, David Swanson punctures our cultural myths about war in a way that is powerful, compelling, and irrefutable.” —Thom Hartmann, author and radio/television host

“This book gives hope that the culture and mindset of militarism, killing, and war can indeed be changed to a culture of peace and nonviolence, and war can be abolished.” —Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

“This book concisely makes the simple case that war should and can be eliminated from the face of the earth. As a quick read for people who already oppose war but need education and talking points—or as a clincher for those who are still struggling to overcome a lifetime of war propaganda—this book should become a critical and powerful tool for the anti-war movement.” —Nicolas Davies, author

“With logic and passion, David Swanson makes a compelling, eloquent case for what is, or should be, the great moral mission of our era: ending war.” —John Horgan, science writer

“Eugene Debs comes to mind when I think of Swanson’s energy and skill for communicating about abolition of war.” —Kathy Kelly, peace activist

“Do you think that humankind can ever eliminate war? David Swanson makes perhaps as good an argument for the affirmative as can be found. Think of the death penalty. Once considered critical to our security, the death penalty is now universally considered optional and widely considered archaic, counter-productive, and shameful. To an even greater extent, this has been the fate of slavery. Why should war not suffer the same destiny?” —William Blum, author

“David Swanson does it again. Yet another tour de force against war and for peace. This book is required reading for everyone in the Peace Movement. As Swanson argues, we must abolish war before war abolishes us. There will be no International War Criminals Tribunal after World War III. Swanson’s book is a Beacon of Hope to a frightened and paralyzed Humanity.” —Francis A. Boyle, professor

War No More reminds us that war abolition can be as successful as was slavery abolition—once we recognize that wars are made by societies that tolerate war, and that wars can be avoided by a cultural rejection of war. As long as Americans feel helpless about their ability to have an impact on the U.S. government, wars will continue, but Swanson’s book and his life are antidotes to American helplessness.” —Bruce E. Levine, author

“The ideas in this book have truly opened up a new way for me to think about war; or, to be more specific, ending it.” —Sean McCord, playwright

“I am always impressed and inspired by David’s prolific energy and I admire his unwavering opposition to all war, not just the ones started or continued by Republicans. In War No More, David once again lays out an impeccable case for abolishing war as a tool of Empire.” —Cindy Sheehan, author and peace activist

“Living in the most militarized culture on earth, we can get trapped into thinking that our choices are limited to going to war or doing nothing. In War No More, David Swanson completely destroys this deadly myth. He convincingly and passionately shows there are many options available to our enormously creative minds once we decide war is not an option of last resort—it is no option at all.” —Mike Ferner, former president, Veterans For Peace

“David Swanson writes like he talks; that is to say, in clear, sharp language that gets to the root of the issue, but in a very personal way…as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with him. As a natural follow-on to Swanson’s previous books about war, War is a Lie, and When the World Outlawed War, he brings us to the logical next step: ending war. Swanson shows us that abolishing war is not unfathomable, but that it will take more than just a change in mindset; it will take real action and real work–a movement. Count me in.” —Leah Bolger, former president, Veterans For Peace

“Long ago, abolitionists caused huge discomfort. They still do. The work of David Swanson is in the vital spirit of William Lloyd Garrison, who had a clear answer when a friend urged him to keep more cool because he seemed on fire. ‘I have need to be all on fire,’ Garrison replied, ‘for there are mountains of ice around me to melt.’ Swanson’s new book War No More generates an abundance of heat and light. It will serve as a powerful blowtorch for efforts to abolish war.” —Norman Solomon, author

War No More is a remarkable book, clearing defining why ending war is, indeed, possible. Mr. Swanson, with his usual clarity, candor, and straight-forward thinking, describes both why it must be done, and how that task can be accomplished. Reaching back into history, he demonstrates how other practices, such as slavery, which were thought ‘necessary’ for one reason or another, were eventually abandoned, and makes logical, reasonable comparisons about how the same or similar methods could work in ending war today. I highly recommend this book to anyone who sees the futility, cruelty and horror of war, but may still believe that some war is inevitable. The facts and theories presented in War No More make clear the idea that war can be ended.” —Robert Fantina, author


From the Introduction:

As I write this, in September 2013, something extraordinary has just happened. Public pressure has led the British Parliament to refuse a prime minister’s demand for war for the first time since the surrender at Yorktown, and the U.S. Congress has followed suit by making clear to the U.S. president that his proposed authorization for war on Syria would not pass through either the Senate or the House.

Now, this may all fall apart in a week or a month or a year or a decade. The forces pressing for a war on Syria have not gone away. The civil war and the humanitarian crisis in Syria are not over. The partisan makeup of the Parliament and the Congress played a role in their actions (although the leaders of both major parties in Congress favored attacking Syria). Foreign nations’ intervention played a role. But the decisive force driving governments around the world and U.S. government (and military) insiders to resist this war was public opinion. We heard the stories of children suffering and dying in Syria, but we rejected the idea that killing more Syrians with U.S. weapons would make Syria better off.

Those of us who believe that we should always have the right to reject our government’s arguments for war should feel empowered. Now that it’s been done, we cannot be told it’s impossible to do it again … and again, and again.

In the space of a day, discussions in Washington, D.C., shifted from the supposed necessity of war to the clear desirability of avoiding war. If that can happen once, even if only momentarily, why can it not happen every time? Why cannot our government’s eagerness for war be permanently done away with? U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the unsuccessful marketing campaign for an attack on Syria, had famously asked, many years earlier, during what the Vietnamese call the American War, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” We have it within our power to make war a thing of the past and to leave Secretary Kerry the last man to have tried to sell us a dead idea.

(An argument will be made that the threat of war aided diplomatic efforts to disarm the Syrian government. It should not be forgotten that when Kerry suggested that Syria could avoid a war by handing over its chemical weapons, everyone knew he didn’t mean it. In fact, when Russia called his bluff and Syria immediately agreed, Kerry’s staff put out this statement: “Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used. His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That’s why the world faces this moment.” In other words: stop getting in the way of our war! By the next day, however, with Congress rejecting war, Kerry was claiming to have meant his remark quite seriously and to believe the process had a good chance of succeeding.)

In this book I make the case outlined in the four section titles: War can be ended; War should be ended; War is not going to end on its own; We have to end war.


The FDL Book Salon

Author: Medea Benjamin
Saturday, October 5, 2013 12:52 pm Pacific time

David Swanson is driven—some might say obsessed. What an obsession to have—an obsession to end war! One has to wonder where he finds the time to be a good father and husband (a question you might ask him) given his non-stop writing, speaking, organizing, scheming, and mobilizing.

He is one of the most prolific writers I’ve ever met. He writes faster than most people can talk. He writes books, articles, letters, manifestos, draft legislation, action alerts. Ask David if he thinks it would be a good idea to write a sign-on letter about why the US should stay out of the Syrian war, and he sends you a well-reasoned, well-written, articulate document before you can finish spitting out the idea.

He also has a knack of writing as if he were speaking to you at the kitchen table. In No More War you can picture him trying to convince a skeptical neighbor that war can truly be ended. What initially sounds like a crazy idea becomes more and more rational as David whittles away at each argument his detractors make. War has always been with us—it’s human nature; you need war to take out the next Hitler;  even if you wanted to end war you can’t fight the massive military-industrial complex; as resources become scarcer, more wars are inevitable. He takes the arguments on one at a time—pulling apart each excuse for war with historical comparisons and rhetorical flourishes.

David goes through a litany of social ills related to violence that have been, for the most part, overcome: slavery, blood feuds, the death penalty, and torture. Yes, he knows that there are still instances of all of these around the world, but removing the legitimacy and state support for institutions such as slavery has made a huge difference and the same would go for war, David argues.

A “good war” must sound to all of us, says David, as no more possible than a benevolent rape or philanthropic slavery or virtuous child abuse.

On the positive side, David shows that by liberating the massive resources now spent on war or preparing for war, we could have a world with many things we want but are told we can’t afford: good education, a clean environment, affordable housing, universal healthcare, a dignified retirement.

I love David’s call for “de-glorifying” the military as part of dismantling the culture of war. “We must hold up resisters, conscientious objectors, peace advocates, diplomats, whistleblowers, journalists, and activists as our heroes,” he says. “We must thank them for their service. We must honor them. We must cease honoring those who participate in war or war industries.” Amen.

David thinks outside the box. He thinks big, he thinks bold. He is not just trying to convince readers, but to change history. He wants to build a mass movement to end war as an institution. He deserves a wide hearing, and a devoted following.

Read the rest of the salon.

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