Archive for the ‘David Swanson’ Category

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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.

 

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How to Counter Recruitment and De-Militarize Schools

 

 

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by David Swanson

By now there’s not nearly as much disagreement regarding what happened to John and Robert Kennedy as major communications corporations would have you believe. While every researcher and author highlights different details, there isn’t any serious disagreement among, say, Jim Douglass’ JFK and the Unspeakable, Howard Hunt’sdeathbed confession, and David Talbot’s new The Devil’s Chessboard.

Jon Schwarz says The Devil’s Chessboard confirms that “your darkest suspicions about how the world operates are likely an underestimate. Yes, there is an amorphous group of unelected corporate lawyers, bankers, and intelligence and military officials who form an American ‘deep state,’ setting real limits on the rare politicians who ever try to get out of line.”

For those of us who were already convinced of that up to our eyeballs, Talbot’s book is still one of the best I’ve seen on the Dulles brothers and one of the best I’ve seen on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Where it differs from Douglass’ book, I think, is not so much in the evidence it relates or the conclusions it draws, but in providing an additional motivation for the crime.

JFK and the Unspeakable depicts Kennedy as getting in the way of the violence that Allen Dulles and gang wished to engage in abroad. He wouldn’t fight Cuba or the Soviet Union or Vietnam or East Germany or independence movements in Africa. He wanted disarmament and peace. He was talking cooperatively with Khrushchev, as Eisenhower had tried prior to the U2-shootdown sabotage. The CIA was overthrowing governments in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, Vietnam, and around the world. Kennedy was getting in the way.

The Devil’s Chessboard depicts Kennedy, in addition, as himself being the sort of leader the CIA was in the habit of overthrowing in those foreign capitals. Kennedy had made enemies of bankers and industrialists. He was working to shrink oil profits by closing tax loopholes, including the “oil depletion allowance.” He was permitting the political left in Italy to participate in power, outraging the extreme right in Italy, the U.S., and the CIA. He aggressively went after steel corporations and prevented their price hikes. This was the sort of behavior that could get you overthrown if you lived in one of those countries with a U.S. embassy in it.

Yes, Kennedy wanted to eliminate or drastically weaken and rename the CIA. Yes he threw Dulles and some of his gang out the door. Yes he refused to launch World War III over Cuba or Berlin or anything else. Yes he had the generals and warmongers against him, but he also had Wall Street against him.

Of course “politicians who ever try to get out of line” are now, as then, but more effectively now, handled first by the media. If the media can stop them or some other maneuver can stop them (character assassination, blackmail, distraction, removal from power) then violence isn’t required.

The fact that Kennedy resembled a coup target, not just a protector of other targets, would be bad news for someone like Senator Bernie Sanders if he ever got past the media, the “super delegates,” and the sell-out organizations to seriously threaten to take the White House. A candidate who accepts the war machine to a great extent and resembles Kennedy not at all on questions of peace, but who takes on Wall Street with the passion it deserves, could place himself as much in the cross-hairs of the deep state as a Jeremy Corbyn who takes on both capital and killing.

Accounts of the escapades of Allen Dulles, and the dozen or more partners in crime whose names crop up beside his decade after decade, illustrate the power of a permanent plutocracy, but also the power of particular individuals to shape it. What if Allen Dulles and Winston Churchill and others like them hadn’t worked to start the Cold War even before World War II was over? What if Dulles hadn’t collaborated with Nazis and the U.S. military hadn’t recruited and imported so many of them into its ranks? What if Dulles hadn’t worked to hide information about the holocaust while it was underway? What if Dulles hadn’t betrayed Roosevelt and Russia to make a separate U.S. peace with Germany in Italy? What if Dulles hadn’t begun sabotaging democracy in Europe immediately and empowering former Nazis in Germany? What if Dulles hadn’t turned the CIA into a secret lawless army and death squad? What if Dulles hadn’t worked to end Iran’s democracy, or Guatemala’s? What if Dulles’ CIA hadn’t developed torture, rendition, human experimentation, and murder as routine policies? What if Eisenhower had been permitted to talk with Khrushchev? What if Dulles hadn’t tried to overthrow the President of France? What if Dulles had been “checked” or “balanced” ever so slightly by the media or Congress or the courts along the way?

These are tougher questions than “What if there had been no Lee Harvey Oswald?” The answer to that is, “There would have been another guy very similar to serve the same purpose, just as there had been in the earlier attempt on JFK in Chicago. But “What if there had been no Allen Dulles?” looms large enough to suggest the possible answer that we would all be better off, less militarized, less secretive, less xenophobic. And that suggests that the deep state is not uniform and not unstoppable. Talbot’s powerful history is a contribution to the effort to stop it.

I hope Talbot speaks about his book in Virginia, after which he might stop saying that Williamsburg and the CIA’s “farm” are in “Northern Virginia.” Hasn’t Northern Virginia got enough to be ashamed of without that?

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Members of the B battery, 2nd battalion, 321st Brigade, 82nd Airborn Division clean a 105mm Howlitzer in Saigon on Sept. 16, 1969. A couple of army helmets atop a sandbag wall are decorated with a peace sign, a symbol popular with this war. (AP Photo/Godfrey)

Veterans Day Is Not for Veterans

Following the Korean War, the U.S. government changed Armistice Day, still known as Remembrance Day in some countries, into Veterans Day, and it morphed from a day to encourage the end of war into a day to glorify war participation. “It was originally a day to celebrate peace,” said Ketwig. “That doesn’t exist anymore. The militarization of America is why I’m angry and bitter.”

1947:  The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, the headquarters of the Department of Defence.  (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

1947: The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, the headquarters of the Department of Defence. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Pentagon Admits that War is Illegal

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A plan to stick the dogs of war back in their cages…

A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

The Work of World Beyond War

World Beyond War is helping build a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace. We believe the time is right for a large-scale cooperation among existing peace and anti-war organizations and organizations seeking justice, human rights, sustainability and other benefits to humanity. We believe that the overwhelming majority of the world’s people are sick of war and ready to back a global movement to replace it with a system of conflict management that does not kill masses of people, exhaust resources, and degrade the planet.

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Executive Summary

Resting on a convincing body of evidence that violence is not a necessary component of conflict among states and between states and non-state actors, World Beyond War asserts that war itself can be ended. We humans have lived without war for most of our existence and most people live without war most of the time. Warfare arose about 6,000 years ago (less than .5% of our existence as Homo sapiens) and spawned a vicious cycle of warfare as peoples, fearing attack by militarized states found it necessary to imitate them and so began the cycle of violence that has culminated in the last 100 years in a condition of permawar. War now threatens to destroy civilization as weapons have become ever more destructive. However, in the last 150 years, revolutionary new knowledge and methods of nonviolent conflict management have been developing that lead us to assert that it is time to end warfare and that we can do so by mobilizing millions around a global effort.

Here you will find the pillars of war which must be taken down so that the whole edifice of the War System can collapse, and here are the foundations of peace, already being laid, on which we will build a world where everyone will be safe. This report presents a comprehensive blueprint for peace as the basis of an action plan to finally end war.

It begins with a provocative “Vision of Peace” which may seem to some to be utopian until one reads the rest of the report which comprises the means for achieving it. The first two parts of the report present an analysis of how the current war system works, the desirability and necessity of replacing it, and an analysis of why doing this is possible. The next part outlines the Alternative Global Security System, rejecting the failed system of national security and replacing it with the concept of common security (no one is safe until all are safe). This relies on three broad strategies for humanity to end war, including thirteen strategies for 1) demilitarizing security and twenty-one strategies for 2)managing conflicts without violence and 3) creating a culture of peace. The first two are the steps to dismantling the war machine and replacing it with a peace system that will provide a more assured common security. These two comprise the “hardware” of creating a peace system. The next section, eleven strategies for accelerating the already developing Culture of Peace, provides the “software,” that is, the values and concepts necessary to operate a peace system and the means to spread these globally. The remainder of the report addressesreasons for optimism and what the individual can do, and ends with a resource guide for further study.

While this report is based on the work of many experts in international relations and peace studies and on the experience of many activists, it is intended to be an evolving plan as we gain more and more experience. The historic end of war is now possible if we muster the will to act and so save ourselves and the planet from ever greater catastrophe. World Beyond War firmly believes that we can do this.

See full table of contents for A Global Security System: An Alternative to War