Archive for the ‘David Swanson’ Category

iraq-war

The Role of Public Health in the Prevention of War: Rationale and Competencies

“Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq.  

 

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by DAVID SWANSON

“U.S. prepares for possible retaliatory strike against Syria,” announces a Los Angeles Times headline, even though Syria has not attacked the United States or any of its occupied territories or imperial forces and has no intention to do so.

Quoth the article:

“the president made no decisions, but the high-level talks came as the Pentagon acknowledged it was moving U.S. forces into position in the region.”

Forgive me, but who the SNAFU made that decision?  Does the commander in chief have any say in this?  Does he get to make speeches explaining how wrong it would be to attack Syria, meet with top military officials who leave the meeting to prepare for attacks on Syria, and go down in history as having been uninvolved in, if not opposed to, his own policies?

Threatening to attack Syria, and moving ships into position to do it, are significant, and illegal, and immoral actions.  The president can claim not to have decided to push the button, but he can’t pretend that all the preparations to do so just happen like the weather.  Or he couldn’t if newspapers reported news.

(Yes, illegal.  Read the U.N. Charter:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”)

“The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies,” said the so-called Defense Secretary, but do any of the contingencies involve defending the United States?  Do any of them involve peace-making?  If not, is it really accurate to talk about “all” contingencies?

In fact, Chuck Hagel only has that “responsibility” because Obama instructed him to provide, not all options, but all military options.

Syrian rebels understand that under all possible U.S. policies, faking chemical weapons attacks can get them guns, while shifting to nonviolent resistance can only get them as ignored as Bahrain. (Ba-who?)

“Obama also called British Prime Minister David Cameron,” says the LA Times, “to talk over the developments in Syria. The two are ‘united’ in their opposition to the use of chemical weapons, the White House said in a statement issued after the call.” Well, except for white phosphorus and napalm.  Those are good chemical weapons, and the United States government is against bad chemical weapons, so really your newspaper isn’t lying to you at all.

What did Obama say to CNN on Thursday?

“[T]he notion that the U.S. can somehow solve what is a sectarian, complex problem inside of Syria sometimes is overstated”

Ya think?

CNN’s Chris Cuomo (son of Mario) pushed for war:

“But delay can be deadly, right, Mr. President?”

Obama replied that he was still verifying the latest chemical weapons horseshit.  Cuomo brushed that aside:

“There’s strong proof they used them already, though, in the past.”

Obama didn’t reply to that lie, but spouted some vacuous rhetoric.

Cuomo, his thirst for dead Syrian flesh perhaps getting a bit frustrated, reached for the standard John McCainism.  Senator McCain, Cuomo said, thinks U.S. “credibility” is lost if Syria is not attacked.  (And if the U.S. government were to suddenly claim not to be an institution of mass-murder, and to act on that – then how would its credibility be?)

Obama, undeterred, went right on preaching against what he was about to do.  “Sometimes,” Obama said, “what we’ve seen is that folks will call for immediate action, jumping into stuff, that does not turn out well, gets us mired in very difficult situations, can result in us being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region.”

But you promised, whined Cuomo, that chemical weapons use would be the crossing of a Red Line!

Obama replied that international law should be complied with.  (For the uninitiated, international law actually forbids attacking and overturning other nations’ governments — even Libya’s.) And, Obama pointed out, there are options other than the military.

There are?!

I’ve found that when Obama starts talking sense like this, he’s actually moving rapidly in the opposite direction.  The more he explains why it would be wrong and illegal and stupid and immoral to attack Syria, the more you can be sure he’s about to do just that.

Here are my, previously published, top 10 reasons not to attack Syria, even if the latest chemical weapons lies were true:

1. War is not made legal by such an excuse.  It can’t be found in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the United Nations Charter, or the U.S. Constitution.  It can, however, be found in U.S. war propaganda of the 2002 vintage.  (Who says our government doesn’t promote recycling?)

2. The United States itself possesses and uses internationally condemned weapons, including white phosphorus, napalm, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium.  Whether you praise these actions, avoid thinking about them, or join me in condemning them, they are not a legal or moral justification for any foreign nation to bomb us, or to bomb some other nation where the U.S. military is operating.  Killing people to prevent their being killed with the wrong kind of weapons is a policy that must come out of some sort of sickness.  Call it Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

3. An expanded war in Syria could become regional or global with uncontrollable consequences.  Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, China, the United States, the Gulf states, the NATO states . . . does this sound like the sort of conflict we want?  Does it sound like a conflict anyone will survive?  Why in the world risk such a thing?

4. Just creating a “no fly zone” would involve bombing urban areas and unavoidably killing large numbers of people.  This happened in Libya and we looked away.  But it would happen on a much larger scale in Syria, given the locations of the sites to be bombed.  Creating a “no fly zone” is not a matter of making an announcement, but of dropping bombs.

5. Both sides in Syria have used horrible weapons and committed horrible atrocities.  Surely even those who imagine people should be killed to prevent their being killed with different weapons can see the insanity of arming both sides to protect each other side.  Why is it not, then, just as insane to arm one side in a conflict that involves similar abuses by both?

6. With the United States on the side of the opposition in Syria, the United States will be blamed for the opposition’s crimes.  Most people in Western Asia hate al Qaeda and other terrorists.  They are also coming to hate the United States and its drones, missiles, bases, night raids, lies, and hypocrisy.  Imagine the levels of hatred that will be reached when al Qaeda and the United States team up to overthrow the government of Syria and create an Iraq-like hell in its place.

7. An unpopular rebellion put into power by outside force does not usually result in a stable government.  In fact there is not yet on record a case of U.S. humanitarian war benefitting humanity or of nation-building actually building a nation.  Why would Syria, which looks even less auspicious than most potential targets, be the exception to the rule?

8. This opposition is not interested in creating a democracy, or — for that matter — in taking instructions from the U.S. government.  On the contrary, blowback from these allies is likely.  Just as we should have learned the lesson of lies about weapons by now, our government should have learned the lesson of arming the enemy of the enemy long before this moment.

9. The precedent of another lawless act by the United States, whether arming proxies or engaging directly, sets a dangerous example to the world and to those in Washington for whom Iran is next on the list.

10. A strong majority of Americans, despite all the media’s efforts thus far, opposes arming the rebels or engaging directly.  Instead, a plurality supports providing humanitarian aid.

In sum, making the Syrian people worse off is not a way to help them.

But — guess what? — the evidence suggests strongly that the latest chemical weapons claims are as phony as all the previous ones.

Who would have ever predicted?

David Swanson is author of War is a Lie. He lives in Virginia.

 

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[Would these pilots say the same things if their unmanned planes were circling over the United States itself?]

Drone Pilots Expose Politicians’ Lies

By David Swanson

Our elected and unelected officials tell us that drone strikes target top level enemies of the United States who are imminent threats to us, and that killing innocent people is avoided altogether or minimized.

Congressional hearings, with a couple of excellent exceptions, question outside academics about the legality of this purported strategy. The Obama administration declines to send any witnesses.

But drone pilots have begun talking to the media. And they describe policies that bear a lot closer resemblance to reporting from the areas where the missiles strike. These pilots should be brought before Congress.

Here is a stunning new interview with one of them:

“So the pilot is not only flying the airplane, he or she is using all those sensors to watch a potential target, circling over it for hours or days at a time. What can you really see?

“Okay, so in a village in, say, country X, where the houses are built together, there are adults who live in this house, and these children belong to those adults because we see them out in the fields together or we see them eating dinner. So you can start figuring out who is associated with who. Who is a stranger, who is it that’s visiting this house? There’s a dog and it barks at strangers, so if we needed to go in and free a hostage or conduct a raid, you’d want to tell the land forces there’s a dog there and either it’s an attack dog or it alerts the village that somebody’s coming.

“You must develop an emotional tie with the people on the ground that makes it hard if there is going to be a strike or a raid, people are going to be killed.

“I would couch it not in terms of an emotional connection, but a ” seriousness. I have watched this individual, and regardless of how many children he has, no matter how close his wife is, no matter what they do, that individual fired at Americans or coalition forces, or planted an IED — did something that met the rules of engagement and the laws of armed conflict, and I am tasked to strike that individual. The seriousness of it is that I am going to do this and it will affect his family. But that individual is the one that brought it on himself. He became a combatant the minute he took up arms.”

This pilot, in fact this director of the Air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft Capabilities Division, has not said that a high level operation leader of terrorists who is imminently threatening the United States is targeted. He has said that some ordinary guy who has chosen to violently resist the hostile foreign occupation of his country by shooting at the occupiers is targeted.

He has also not said anything to satisfy those who support the notion of just wars but want them conducted in compliance with the Geneva Conventions and other such legally binding limitations. This director of a U.S. drone kill program openly says that our public employees target a family for death if needed in order to blow up a foreign soldier from thousands of miles away. Every effort is made to avoid killing innocent family members, he says in the interview, but if it can’t be avoided, well, the target “brought it on himself.”

Here another pilot describes specific such incidents. Here the New York Times reports on the resulting PTSD suffered by drone pilots.

War is murder, and this type of war ought to look to most people like the murder that it is. But even if you accept war, this is not how ANYBODY claims it is to be legally done. This is beyond what Congressional witnesses or even Congress members would say is acceptable or legal. Yet this pilot blurts it out to the media with apparently no concern that his life will be inconvenienced by further questioning.

Enough is enough is enough. End this madness now [petition to ban armed drones].

http://davidswanson.org

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHbZBkhwHPQ&feature=player_embedded

Hit and Stay

New documentary brings the nine Catholic clergy members, who started the raids on draft board offices, to the big screen

David Swanson has more…

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The CIA has been so busy consulting on Zero Dark Thirty, not to mention funding Hamid Karzai, bribing Russians, lying about weapons, and conducting humanitarian drone murders, that it didn’t have any time at all to help out with Hit and Stay, and yet arguably the latter turned out to be the better film despite such a severe handicap. You can check it out at http://hitandstay.com

This is a film about people taking risks to prevent killing rather than to engage in it. The focus is on the Catonsville Nine action on May 17, 1968, 45 years ago this Friday. That action, in which activists burned draft cards and apologized for burning papers rather than children, was preceded by the Baltimore Four action of October 27, 1967, in which four activists poured their blood on draft papers. It was followed by countless other actions, leading right up to the Transform Plowshares action in Tennessee for which three are currently awaiting sentencing.

The Catonsville action received so much publicity that it had something of an Occupy effect. That is, others who felt the same way about the slaughter of the Vietnamese people but didn’t believe they could do anything, suddenly began doing something. Some did very similar actions. Others tried their own approaches to the same problem. Catonsville Nine inspired other tactics, enlarged marches and rallies, and generally moved the peace movement forward. The creativity and novelty of the action even made people think about the war who hadn’t before.

Draft records were destroyed, preventing the drafting of those people. So, this was substantive resistance that couldn’t be undone. At the same time it was educational and inspirational. It didn’t inspire sadistic shouts of “Bin Laden’s dead!” It inspired people to act on their moral outrage. There were over 100 actions taken at draft boards over the next few years. Many thousands of people’s draft records were destroyed, saving them from the draft and saving those they would have killed from that fate. Some of the draft offices were shut down permanently. In the end the Selective Service declared it was under assault, and Nixon declared that the military would now be volunteer.

Some of the actions went after FBI offices and U.S. attorneys offices. Activists never yet apprehended stole COINTELPRO documents and sent them to the media, exposing the FBI’s abuses and creating a major news story that lasted until it was overshadowed by the Pentagon Papers — released by Dan Ellsberg, himself inspired by the activism shown in Hit and Stay. The people shown engaging in these actions are, in many cases, still active today — although they look a bit older. In other cases, their sons and daughters are still involved.

The name “Hit and Stay” comes from the method of engaging in civil disobedience (or civil resistance for those who prefer to point to laws being upheld through the violation of other laws deemed less important) and then staying at the scene of the crime to take responsibility. This was a communications strategy, not a masochistic drive toward suffering. Some of the Catonsville Nine went into hiding to avoid their trial and remain active, even after having stood still long enough to be arrested and charged.

The film shows us the Milwaukee 14, the DC 9 who went after the Dow Chemical Company, and the New York 8. The New York activists hit more than one location and chose not to stay. Instead, they held a press conference to claim responsibility without identifying who was at which location or agreeing to answer questions. They were not prosecuted.

We see the Boston 2, the Rhode Island Political Offensive For Freedom (RIPOFF) — modeled after the New York 8. We see the Rochester Flower City Conspiracy, the Buffalo, the Camden 28. That last one was encouraged, assisted, and then busted by an informant, but in the trial the judge allowed defense witnesses including people like Howard Zinn. The jury nullified the law by acquitting defendants who openly admitted to their actions. The jury joined in singing “Amazing Grace,” and the foreman threw a party for the defendants.

Activists have not entirely figured out how to counter the brilliant move of creating a “volunteer” poverty draft, but neither has it shut down resistance in quite the way as is generally imagined. The stories of these long-ago actions and so many thousands of actions since still inspire. And resistance is in many ways greater now. Wars are protested before they even start, and sometimes prevented from starting. There is much to inspire us in independent media reports of nonviolent actions today, but I suspect this movie has the power to inspire us further.

http://davidswanson.org

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org

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Justice Department Leaks Memo “Legalizing” Murdering Americans

By David Swanson

Global Research, February 05, 2013

War is a Crime

Here is the memo.  With a few tweaks and a more creative title — like “Murder With Your Hands Clean” — this memo could sell a lot of copies.

And why not?  Either there’s a whistleblower in the Department of So-Called Justice about to be charged with espionage, and NBC is about to face the same persecution as WikiLeaks, or this is one of those “good” leaks that the White House wanted made public in an underhanded manner — perhaps as an imagined boost to morality-challenged CIA director nominee John Brennan who faces his Senate Rejection Hearing on Thursday.

The memo, which is thought to be a summary of a longer one, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow “outside the area of active hostilities” even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:

“1. an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;”

The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official.  Who is such an official?  Who decides whether he or she is informed?  What if two of them disagree?  What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then?  One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree.   “Imminent” is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all.  “The United States” clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be.

“2. capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible;”

And if a high-level official claims it’s infeasible, who can challenge that?

“3. the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.

When a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, no one had shown him to meet the above qualifications; I don’t think anyone has made such a claim to this day.  And what about his cousin who died for the crime of being with him at the wrong time?

The sociopaths who wrote this memo have “legalized” the drone-killing of Americans with the exception of all the Americans known thus far to have been murdered by our government with the use of drones.

 David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook

 

by David Swanson

A new movie has just been released based on Vincent Bugliosi’s book “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.” Bugliosi, of course, prosecuted Charles Manson and authored best sellers about Manson’s guilt, O.J. Simpson’s guilt, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt. Whether we all agree with all of those conclusions, it is worth noting that each book was reviewed and considered by the biggest U.S. newspapers and television networks. When Bugliosi wrote a book about George W. Bush’s guilt, something we’re almost all united on, the corporate media shut it out. Will the same fate greet this movie?

I hope not. In the book, and in this new movie, Bugliosi makes a devastating, well documented case that President George W. Bush is guilty of the murder of U.S. soldiers as a result of the lies he told to justify the invasion of Iraq, and can be prosecuted by any state attorney general in the country, or by any county prosecutor from a jurisdiction where a U.S. soldier lived prior to being killed in Iraq.

In the movie, we watch Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz remark that if presidents had to live in fear of their actions being scrutinized for criminality that would have a huge impact on their behavior. Dershowitz means this as somehow a negative thing. Bugliosi points out that that is exactly the point: we ought to deter criminal behavior in presidents.

Bugliosi’s argument for prosecution is simple. Bush wanted a war with Iraq. He had to show that a preemptive invasion of Iraq was justified. To do this Iraq had to be an imminent threat to the United States. There were two major problems. Bush couldn’t prove any connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. More importantly, Bush’s own 2002 classified intelligence estimate found that Saddam was not an imminent threat to the United States. Bush simply reversed the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, and sent men and women off to fight a fraudulent and unnecessary war, knowing full well that some of them would come home in boxes.

The facts are not in dispute. Bush chose to send US troops into Iraq. He did not do so in self-defense or as a last resort or under an international mandate, but rather went out of his way to concoct false motives for war and to rush its launching. By sending troops into war, Bush was knowingly and needlessly but certainly condemning some of them to death. The Iraqis who killed those soldiers in predictable and legally justifiable defense of their country fall into the legal category of “third-party innocent agent.” This does not mean they are innocent, but rather that their actions do nothing to lessen the guilt of George W. Bush as murderer of those soldiers. Bugliosi calls this the “vicarious liability rule of conspiracy.”

Bugliosi explains:

“In other words, if Bush personally killed an American soldier, he would be guilty of murder. Under the law, he cannot immunize himself from his criminal responsibility by causing a third party to do the killing. He’s still responsible. George Bush cannot sit safely in his Oval Office in Washington, D.C., while young American soldiers fighting his war are being blown to pieces by roadside bombs in Iraq, and wash his hands of all culpability. It’s not quite that easy. He could only do this if he did not take this nation into war under false pretenses. If he did, which the evidence overwhelmingly shows, he is criminally responsible for the thousands of American deaths in Iraq.”

In addition, Bugliosi argues, Bush could be found guilty of murder under the rule of “aiding and abetting,” because he instigated the killing of American soldiers by ordering the invasion of Iraq.

Did Bush have “malice aforethought”? Yes, according to Bugliosi. We convict people of murder for driving 100 mph through a school zone and hitting a child, or for blowing up a building while unaware that someone is inside. These are cases where the murderer does not know he is committing murder but where he is reckless enough to take an unreasonable risk of doing so. In Bush’s case, he absolutely knew that invading Iraq would involve U.S. casualties, and yet he ordered the invasion, thereby acting with the intent that American soldiers be killed.

Bugliosi strengthens this argument by pointing out that we often convict people of murder for accidental killings that occur in the act of committing other felonies:

“A robber, for instance, was convicted of first degree murder under the felony-murder rule where, as he was leaving the store in which he had robbed the owner, he told the owner not to say a word or he’d be harmed, and fired into the ceiling to scare the owner. The shot, after two or three ricochets, pierced the head of the owner, killing him. In fact, the felony-murder rule applies even where the defendant is not the killer! There have been cases where the proprietor of the store fired at a robber, missed him and hit and killed a customer. And the robber was convicted of first degree murder of the customer.”

Bugliosi missed an opportunity here to further strengthen his case by noting that in the act of ordering the invasion of Iraq, Bush was committing a number of felonies. When Bush submitted his March 18, 2003, letter and report to the United States Congress providing reasons for attacking Iraq, he violated the federal anti-conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. – 371, which makes it a felony “to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose…”; and The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. – 1001, which makes it a felony to issue knowingly and willfully false statements to the United States Congress. Bush also committed a felony by misappropriating funds to secretly begin the invasion prior to this date.

Bugliosi notes that there is no statute of limitations for murder. Bush could be prosecuted by any future federal prosecutor who had the nerve to do so and could do so while keeping his or her job. But Bugliosi writes that a state attorney general or any district attorney in any city or county could bring a murder charge against Bush for any soldiers from that state or county who lost their lives in Iraq. And not just Bush, but Cheney, Rice, et alia. Bugliosi provides some truly talented proposals for questioning Bush in court and adds:

“I would be more than happy, if requested, to consult with any prosecutor who decides to prosecute Bush in preparation of additional cross-examination questions for him to face on the witness stand. I believe the cross-examination would be such that they’d have to carry the arrogant son of privilege off the stand on a stretcher.”

I know the same offer to assist stands from former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega, author of “United States versus George W. Bush et al.,” who also appears in the film.

Bugliosi believes he’s found the one true way to bring Bush to justice. I think numerous avenues lie open, and that what is lacking is the will. But the statutes of limitations are running out on many crimes, narrowing the field for prosecution. Only those torture cases that resulted in death, for example, can now be prosecuted without running up against the statutes of limitations.

The root of warfare, I believe, is the valuing of U.S. lives over the lives of others. So it is unfortunate that Bugliosi’s approach encourages that, even if unintentionally. Bugliosi does not see any legal case to try Bush for the murders of Iraqis, but he also openly admits that he cares more about the deaths of Americans. Bugliosi repeatedly cites the figure 100,000, or “over 100,000″ as the number of Iraqi deaths, but never indicates where he came up with that number or how he ignores the fact that every serious study has placed the count above a million. Even if Bugliosi sees no way to prosecute Bush for the murder of Iraqis, he does not seem to have considered the possibility that U.S. troops are guilty of those murders. The U.S. troops in this story (and, sadly, it is thus far just a story, not a prosecution) play exclusively the role of victim. The legal and moral reality assigns them multiple roles.

I don’t think it hurts Bugliosi’s legal case, but I doubt that most Congress members believed Bush’s lies about Iraq. At the very least, they were as reckless as he was. And I think there is a fundamental problem with Bugliosi’s belief that there was something unique about Bush lying us into a war in Iraq. It has been firmly established that the U.S. invaded Mexico, that there was no evidence to tie Spain to the sinking of the Maine, that the troops and weapons on the Lusitania were public knowledge, that FDR told numerous lies about Japan and Germany, that the Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened, that the Taliban was willing to hand bin Laden over to a third nation to be tried, etc. The belief that Iraq was a first led me to correct the record with a book called War Is A Lie.

Because I know war lies are not unusual, I may value deterrence more highly. I also do not thirst, as Bugliosi does, for anger and vengeance against “evil monsters.” But Bugliosi, too, argues for deterrence as a central motivation, so it’s interesting to see what the lack of deterrence has already wrought. President Obama continued Bush’s wars, including the one in Iraq. President Obama has an open policy of murder including weekly Tuesday reviews of the names of victims. The evidence is abundant. Bugliosi promises in the movie that he would treat a Democrat exactly the same way he treats Bush. I sure hope so.

Here’s a radio interview I did with Bugliosi.

Here’s a preview of the movie:

http://youtu.be/68_3rjp0Rkw

http://davidswanson.org

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

 

NBC Invents War-o-tainment

by David Swainson

If you’ve watched the Olympics on NBC you’ve probably seen ads promoting a war-o-tainment reality show cohosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, co-starring Todd Palin, and with no apparent role for reality.

The ads brag about the use of real bullets in a way that promoters of the new Batman movie probably wouldn’t try. But the chances that any of the celebrities engaged in “war competition” on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” will be shot and killed is essentially what it was for John Wayne, as he promoted war while dodging it (even if nuclear weapons testing got him in the end).

RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have set up a website at StarsEarnStripes.org to push NBC to show the real cost of war, and to help get them started.

“Stars Earn Stripes” is being produced by the TV “genius” behind Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” (Husband Todd Palin is a “Stars Earn Stripes” co-star.) NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event. But the sport it’s exhibiting is war.

On “Stars Earn Stripes,” celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including “long-range weapons fire.” Only there won’t be any of the killing or dying.

Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly. NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs. Other nations’ media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.

NBC news programs have repeatedly used retired generals, pretending independence but getting their pro-war talking points from the Pentagon. See New York Times: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand and Glenn Greenwald: The Pulizer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV.

In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events. Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda. While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can’t seem to get enough of our tax dollars. In the spirit of transferring veterans’ care to the realm of private charity, “Stars Earn Stripes” will give prize money each week to “military-based charities” in order to “send a message.”

One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy — rather, as financial profit. (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war. And consider for a moment who that retired general is. During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia commanded by Gen. Wesley Clark, civilians and a TV station were bombed, while cluster bombs and depleted uranium were used. Had Clark done these things for another nation, NBC would probably favor his prosecution and certainly not employ him. See Democracy Now! Confronts Wesley Clark Over His Bombing Of Civilians.

StarsEarnStripes.org is asking NBC to stop treating war as a sport, and to air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months. We’ve provided some resources to help NBC research and show the reality of war, at StarsEarnStripes.org.

http://davidswanson.org

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at davidswanson.org and warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization rootsaction.org.