Archive for the ‘David Swanson’ Category

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by David Swanson

The new movie, War Machine, on Netflix starring Brad Pitt begins as a hilarious and satisfying mockery of General Stanley McChrystal, circa 2009, as well as of militarism in general. Hilarious because of the deadpan sincere idiocy. Satisfying at least to those of us who have been screaming “What are you idiots doing?” for the past fifteen-and-a-half years.

Should we be glad that a Hollywood movie can still be made mocking the murderous malevolence of true believers in militarism, or should we be disturbed that theaters won’t show such movies and they have to end up on Netflix? Should we be glad that a war satire set in Afghanistan didn’t have to wait decades for a different war, in the manner of Mash, or should we be disturbed that most viewers will not know a current war is being mocked because they either believe the war on Afghanistan has ended or they simply can’t keep up with the proliferation of wars?

Regardless, I recommend making sure every movie-lover, Brad Pitt fan, young person, and old person watch this movie. Watch a sincere true-believing military commander and his sycophants consciously choose to win an unwinnable war, proposing straight-faced to work on protecting people while not killing them — or killing them less, or something.

The basic truth that people don’t want armed foreigners in their towns and would rather not be bombed is presented here in straightforward dialogue as well as comedic exchange. And Brad Pitt’s character, based on Stanley McChrystal, and on Michael Hastings’ account of McChrystal, is depicted as having turned himself into a human hammer, unable to see any problem as anything other than a nail — his ambition to “win” a war driving his blindness to the absolute unwinnability of foreign occupations or “counter-insurgency” or “counter-terrorism,” also known as terrorism.

The whole thing stops being funny three-quarters of the way into the movie, when the protests of troops that they cannot distinguish civilians from enemies becomes an actual demonstration of that inability. When we get to watch the General in charge articulate all of his usual platitudes and nonsensical pep-rally lies (even if lies to himself, still lies) to a man whose child has just been murdered by U.S. troops, the laughter is gone.

Even when we see a village leader ask the General to “please leave now,” there’s little satisfaction in this plea of the Afghan people for the past decade and a half finally making it into U.S. ears, because we know that the U.S. military will not ever listen.

We also know that this movie constitutes the extent of the punishment that the real Stanley McChrystal will ever receive for his crimes. There will be no trial, no legal judgment.

Speculation as to the cause of death of Michael Hastings continues, but speculation as to whether the individuals crashing the U.S. war machine into Afghanistan year after year have committed murder in a futile and criminal attempt to advance their personal interests should end. There is no doubt that they have done and are doing just that on a massive scale. They are, as this movie points out, and as no U.S. newspaper or television station dares to state, endangering the United States under the banner of slogans claiming they are defending and protecting it.

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When Van Jones appeared to lose his mind and declare Trump some sort of deity because of his Very Solemn treatment of the death of the One Person Who Mattered, Van Jones was following a long tradition of treatment of the sacred sacrificing of lives to the God of War, the feeding of troops to the Holy Flag. Only lives that matter can be used in this ritual. Only lives that have been lost and that mattered can be used to justify hurling more lives after them. President Polk knew this when he got U.S. troops killed in Mexico. So did those war propagandists who remembered the Maine.The mast of the Maine still stands at the Naval Academy in Annapolis as a monument to the fundamental rite of lying about dead people who mattered, in order to remove all constraints on behavior.

Has Van Jones Lost His Mind?

 

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David Swanson liked what he saw…

“Snowden is the most entertaining, informing, and important film you are likely to see this year.”

 

Snowden: Best Film of the Year

 

 

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Could this be why nobody believes the corporate media anymore and most despise it?

“With some of the country’s most influential trade groups and global corporations as clients, we run many of the major op-ed campaigns in the U.S. We place roughly 3,000 op-eds per year.”

Public Relations Firm Claims to Have Ghost Written Thousands of Op-Eds in Major U.S. Newspapers

 

 

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David Swanson takes on the latest Hollywood tone-deaf exploitation of life and death issues…

Arms Dealing Is Subject of Hollywood Comedy

And it’s true that the (based on a true) story depicted in the film ends up in disaster. But we never see the slightest hint at how arming people to commit mass murder might harm anyone, any more than Wall Street crime movies introduce you to people made homeless by Wall Street scams. The moral lesson of War Dogs seems to be: Abide by proper bureaucratic procedures, buy the instruments of death from approved nations, maintain propriety and transparency in death dealing, and you’ll get only slightly less stinking rich than these clowns did.

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Unaccountable murder around the world, and NBC sells it to the masses by any means necessary. How would they like it if their own street was under attack from armed robots?

NBC Lies About Drones

The CIA’s role in the Dateline film is more extensive than in the production of Zero Damn Truth — er, I mean, Zero Dark Thirty — and we next hear Brennan claiming that “Counter-terrorism professionals always would prefer to capture individuals.” That counter terrorism is terrorism, that children living under the constant buzz and threat of drones are traumatized, never comes up. And Brennan’s claim is false. We know of numerous cases when someone could have been easily arrested, but murdering them and anybody nearby was preferred — or at least murdering whoever had that person’s cell phone at the time.

Brennan’s next utterance is ludicrous: “Taking kinetic action against a target or individual usually is a last resort.” Because the option of not doing so doesn’t exist?

This flood of propaganda is not impeded by the voices of critics, protesters, lawyers, survivors, or victims, by the views of foreign governments or the European Union or the Pakistani courts, by the perspective of families afraid to step out of doors. The “successful” drone war in Yemen that predictably led to a larger war is not examined.

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by David Swanson

Your new movie, Where to Invade Next, is very powerful, your best so far for certain.

Get well.

Fast.

We need you.

You’ve packed a great many issues into this film, with visuals, with personalities, with entertainment. If people will watch this, they’ll learn what many of us have struggled to tell them and more, as there was plenty that I learned as well.

I must assume that when U.S. audiences watch scenes that dramatically clash with their world yet seem humane and reasonable they’ll be brought to the point ofthinking.

You show us political candidates, not screeching for more prisons, but holding a televised election debate in a prison in an effort to win the votes of the prisoners, who are permitted to vote. What are we to make of that? You also show us scenes from U.S. prisons of grotesque brutality. Then you show us the effective rehabilitation achieved by Norwegian prisons (25% of U.S. recidivism rate). That doesn’t just clash with what’s familiar in the United States, but it also clashes with what the United States teaches about “human nature,” namely that criminals cannot be rehabilitated. And you expose the driving force of vengeance that lies behind that pseudo-belief by showing the collective response of forgiveness and sanity with which Norway responded to a major terrorist incident. We all know how the U.S. has responded to those.

If we’ve read Steven Hills’ bookEurope’s Promise or others like it, or lived in Europe and visited Europe or other parts of the world, we have some notion of much of what you show us: Italians and others with many weeks of paid vacation and parental leave plus 2-hour lunch breaks, Germans with paid weeks at a spa if they feel stress, Finland with soaring educational achievement reached by shunning standardized tests and homework while shrinking the school day, France with nutritious gourmet school lunches, Slovenia and dozens of other countries with free college, workers making up 50% of corporate boards in Germany, Portugal legalizing drugs (best line of the movie: “So does Facebook.”). By bringing all of this together in a concise and intelligent and entertaining way, you’ve done us all a favor.

I was worried, I will confess. I apologize. I’ve been watching Bernie Sanders propose these sorts of changes without a real vision behind them and without daring to mention that the money is all being dumped into the U.S. military. And I’ve watched you, Michael, make some oddly supportive comments about Hillary Clinton who has spent decades working against everything this movie is about. So, I was worried, but I was wrong. Not only were you willing to point out that the United States pays nearly as much as these other countries in taxes, and much more when adding in the additional things paid for outside of taxes (college, healthcare, etc.), but you also included the elephant in the room, the 59% (in the figure you used) of U.S. income tax that goes to militarism. This movie, because you included that fundamental difference between the United States and other nations, is a terrific boost for the cause of ending war. That you point out the contrast between what Germans know and feel about the holocaust and what U.S. Americans know and feel about past U.S. wars, genocides, and slavery only adds to the value.

You included in a single 2-hour movie, in a clear and unrushed manner, not only all of the above, but also explanation of the popular resistance needed to create it, plus a critique of the racist U.S. drug war, mass incarceration, prison labor, and the death penalty. You showed us Muslim leaders in a largely Muslim nation more advanced on women’s rights than is the United States. You showed us the openness of numerous nations to women sharing in power. I do, by the way, recognize the good intentions that may lie behind your interest in electing a female president, but I ask you if Margaret Thatcher advanced or impeded the cause. Does electing women create humane societies, or is it at least as much the case that humane societies elect women?

The other story you bring us from Iceland, in addition to women in power, is bankers prosecuted for their crimes. Odd, isn’t it? Americans thirst for such revenge that they imprison small-time criminals for decades and brutalize them, but big-time criminals are rewarded. A shift to a more civilized system of justice would reduce the nastiness in one case but impose penalties that have been lacking in the other.

You allowed some powerful voices to speak in this movie. One of them suggested that Americans try taking an interest in the rest of the world. I’ve noticed, living abroad, that not only do other people want to know about the United States (and everywhere else), but they also want to know what Americans think of them. And I always have to reply with shame that Americans don’t, in fact, think anything of them at all. Not only should we start to be curious about others, but we should start to be curious about what others think of us.

Peace,
David Swanson

P.S. — I’m old enough to remember your film about Bush’s Iraq lies, Michael. The leading Republican presidential candidate now says Bush lied. The trailing Democratic candidate doesn’t, and told the same lies at the time herself. You helped make U.S. culture, not yet good enough to end homelessness, but good enough to get that question right. Thank you.