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Feb 2018

Can You Give Two Days to Stop the Slaughter?

posted Feb 25, 2018, 7:49 AM by David Swanson

The power of mass demonstrations to mobilize activism and move those in positions of power is minimized, first and foremost, by those opposed to popular power. Do not listen to them. Make them listen to us!

Can you give two days to stop the slaughter of innocents and the shameless profiteering from their blood? If you can give more, so much the better. But by giving two days, you will guarantee that others will give more. You will be part of building the necessary momentum, the key ingredient in social change.

These are the two days to give: March 24 and November 11. If you can’t give those, or want more, pick some others. But here’s why I say those two, and why the top priority is to be in Washington, D.C., but just as important is to be visible everywhere else.

March 24

On March 24 in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere in the U.S. (and beyond?), students and teachers and everyone else who values lives over guns will march against gun violence. But the strategy will be weak unless millions of us uninvited marchers show up to augment the message with what it is not permissible to say. The culture of gun violence is fueled by the culture of militarism and by the military. A hugely disproportionate share of mass-shooters have been U.S. military veterans. Some have been JROTC students. The recent killer in Florida was trained to kill by the U.S. Army in the very school where he killed. The JROTC’s “history” classes, the Army’s video games, the military’s role in producing Hollywood movies, the Pentagon’s unloading of old weapons on police departments and the general public — this is all done with our tax dollars. The NRA understands the connections perfectly, and churns out advertisements promoting more wars. If we don’t make the connections, we won’t win. So, bring these signs. And help us keep military recruiters out of schools.

By the way, March 24 was the day in 1999 when the United States and NATO began 78 days of bombing Yugoslavia. Here’s a discussion of exactly how destructive that was. Fittingly, March 24 is also International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. A great day around which to create a new holiday tradition!

So, go sign up here! And (this is important!) politely encourage the organizers to acknowledge the existence of the JROTC.

November 11

Since the United States destroyed North Korea almost 70 years ago, November 11 has been called, in the United States, “Veterans Day.” This year, Donald Trump proposes to stage a giant parade of weaponry through the streets of Washington, D.C. But prior to the intense propaganda campaign around the brutal bombardment that leveled most North Korean cities, and to this day in much of the rest of the world, November 11 is known as Armistice Day, or in some places Remembrance Day.

At 11 o’clock on this 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years ago this year, World War I ended. It was a scheduled end to the war, with the killing and dying pointlessly continuing right up to that moment. The worldwide celebration after the armistice was euphoric. And those who had believed the propaganda about a “war to end all war” and those who had not were united in desiring to make it true. Armistice Day was for years promoted by the U.S. government among others as a day to work for global friendship and peace. Parading the instruments of death that suck down 60% of the budget Congress votes on each year is not a way to build friendship or peace.

But our “Armistice Day, Not Trump Day” will be weak if it includes only those who have learned to reject war propaganda and dedicated themselves to ending war and weapons dealing. We need, again, from the other direction, to make the connections. We need to include in our peace parade those who reject the militarization of schools, of police, or borders, and of entertainment. Those who care about the earth’s climate must not sit by while the single greatest contributors to climate change are paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue. Those who care about investment in human needs will metaphorically shoot themselves in the foot if they fail to oppose the glorification of wasting trillions of dollars on weaponry. Those who want safety need to earn it by demonstrating to the world that people in the United States do not agree with the policy of bombing foreign countries.

So, go sign up here, and invite people and organizations to do so too. And if we help prevent the Trumparade from happening, our celebration will go forward — even bigger and better!

Can Madness Be Cured By Marching?

“Madness in individuals is something rare; 
but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

The two marches planned for March and for November are the same march when seen from the perspective of a national psychiatrist. The racism, militarism, and extreme materialism they address are a single disease.

The U.S. has had mass shootings on military bases full of people with guns. The U.S. has filled its schools with armed guards, who have not prevented a single shooting but have criminalized children’s behavior. Proposing to put more guns into schools is not a sane proposal.

Other nations have banned guns, or banned the worst guns, and seen dramatic decreases in mass shootings. Throwing up one’s hands and exclaiming that nothing can be done is not the action of a population or sub-population that is thinking straight.

The U.S. puts almost as much money into war weaponry as the rest of the world combined, with much of the rest of the world buying U.S. weaponry pushed on it by a U.S. State Department turned into a weapons dealer. The result is anti-U.S. hostility at levels other nations can’t imagine going to such expense and effort to generate. Celebrating the weapons that endanger and impoverish is a form of sickness.

Each war kills large numbers of innocent people, disproportionately the very old and the very young. Each day, the vast majority of the people killed with U.S. weapons are outside the United States. Each war leaves a new area of the world devastated, more violent, and a greater threat to others.

When you’re in a hole, the first step is not to use explosives to dig faster.

There are some things, said Dr. King, to which we should insist on remaining maladjusted.

In a time of universal deceit, said George Orwell, telling the truth becomes an act of rebellion.

Can a large group of thoughtful, committed citizens change the world? Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.


Video of Debate #2: Is War Ever Justifiable?

posted Feb 14, 2018, 4:35 AM by David Swanson

Our first debate was February 12th. This was our second, held February 13, 2018, at Eastern Mennonite University, moderated by Lisa Schirch.



The two speakers’ bios:

Pete Kilner is a writer and military ethicist who served more than 28 years in the Army as an infantryman and professor at the U.S. Military Academy. He deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct research on combat leadership. A graduate of West Point, he holds an MA in Philosophy from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Education from Penn State.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie and War Is Never Just. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. He holds an MA in philosophy from UVA.

No comprehensive effort was made to survey the audience as to the debate's impact. Indicate your response, please, in the comments section below.

These were my prepared remarks:

Thanks for hosting this and being here. Pete and I debated last night at Radford. A video is at And we agreed, as the majority of this country has agreed for years, that military spending should be reduced. I want it gradually reduced to zero. I don't know where Pete wants it, but he doesn't want it at zero. However, I am certain that if military spending were significantly reduced, you would see a reverse arms race, a reduction in threats and hostility abroad, and consequently greater public desire to go on reducing it further. So, in a sense, we don't need this debate, we just need democracy rather than wars in the name of democracy and a government that goes on year-after-year moving more money out of almost everything else and into militarism. But to build a movement powerful enough to influence the U.S. oligarchy we do need this debate, we do need a clearer understanding that no war can ever be justified, and therefore that dumping over a trillion dollars a year into preparing for a possible just war has to stop. After all, 3 percent of that money could end starvation on earth, 1 percent could end the lack of clean water, a bigger chunk could give us a chance against climate change (rather than serving as the leading cause of climate change). So it's the institution of war that kills far more than the actual wars, and we can't build the strength to reduce it as long as people imagine there might be a just war some day.

Pete and I also agreed that numerous wars have been unjust. I'll talk a little about why the wars he claims were just were actually unjust on their own terms and in isolation. But I think the burden for a just war is even higher than that. I think a war, to do more good than harm, has to do so much more good than harm as to outweigh the damage done by all the admittedly unjust wars as well as by the diversion of funding from where it could save and improve millions of lives rather than wasting them. War is an institution, and for any war to be justified it has to justify all the damage done by the institution.

But Pete only named a couple of wars just and a couple unjust without ever giving us a method that would allow us to determine which are which when we turn to all the wars he didn't label one way or the other. Those include wars he took part in: Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2006 Pete claimed the war on Iraq was doing Iraq lots of good. I asked him repeatedly what that good was and never got an answer. He did call the 2003-begun war "imprudent" and a "mistake." If that's what you call a war that radically increases the use of the term sociocide (meaning the total destruction of a society), I wonder what level of slaughter is needed before a war gets labeled something harsher like "bad" or "unpleasant" or "mildly regrettable."

One current war that Pete agreed was unjust was the U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen. But will Pete join me in urging U.S. troops to refuse the immoral and illegal order to participate in that war? Isn't that a moral duty comparable to that of encouraging participation in supposedly just wars? Doesn't it expose one of the many problems with calling the U.S. military voluntary? Anything else you're doing voluntarily you're permitted to quit doing. What is the point of teaching soldiers morality if they aren't supposed to act on it?

Pete will say that he has explained what a just war is, it's a war fought because you've been attacked. Except that he'll then readily admit that the United States has been fighting all these wars without having been attacked. So what he actually means is that someone else has been attacked, allowing the United States to step in as a gesture of generosity and assistance. But, as a rule, this stepping in is not appreciated, not requested, not actually helpful, on the contrary catastrophically counterproductive, and also, by the way, illegal. Who died and made the United States the world's policeman? Nobody. But millions of people have been killed by the policing. The publics of most countries polled in 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world. Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017. To begin to grasp why, just imagine if some other country began bombing several nations at a time out of the goodness of its heart. The shrieks of "Rogue Nation!" and "War Criminal!" would echo across every corporate news outlet.

Imagine if some country put missiles just inside Canada and Mexico aimed at the United States, the way that the United States does to Russia. Imagine if they justified this as defensive and pointed out that it was being done by their Defense Department which proved it. There's a video of Vladimir Putin asking former U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock about U.S. missiles near Russia, and Matlock tells Putin not to worry because the missiles are purely a jobs program for back in the states. Would such an answer satisfy us if the case were reversed? Never mind that the studies done by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst show quite clearly that military spending costs us jobs rather than adding to them.

Although the one relatively recent U.S. war that Pete says was just cannot possibly outweigh the damage done by all the U.S. wars we agree were not plus the diversion of funding, the risk of nuclear apocalypse, the war machine's environmental damage, the political and cultural damage, the counterproductive endangerment rather than protection, etc., let me look at that one war very briefly.

This is the Persian Gulf War. Recall that the United States had worked to bring Saddam Hussein to power and had armed and aided him in an aggressive war against Iran for years. A company called American Type Culture Collection in Manassas, Virginia, supplied the biological materials for anthrax to Saddam Hussein. Only later, when it was clear Iraq had no significant biological or chemical much less nuclear weapons, the pretense that it had new vast stockpiles of them was somehow a justification to bomb a nation full of human beings, 99.9 percent of whom had never shaken hands with Donald Rumsfeld. But first came the Gulf War. Like every war, it began with a period of threats, which bore no resemblance to the immediacy and urgency of a mugging in a dark alley or similar analogy that Pete likes to use. In fact, during this particular drawn-out period, a public relations company coached a girl to lie to Congress that Iraq was taking babies out of incubators. And meanwhile Iraq proposed to withdraw from Kuwait if Israel would withdraw from Palestinian territories illegally occupied, and Iraq proposed a weapons of mass destruction free Middle East. Numerous governments and even a guy who's supposedly never wrong called The Pope urged the U.S. to pursue a peaceful settlement. The U.S. preferred war. At further odds with irrelevant analogies to personal self-defense, the U.S. in this war killed tens of thousands of Iraqis while they were retreating.

Do you know why recent presidents other than Trump have not proposed big military parades? It's because none of the U.S. wars since the Gulf War has been able to even remotely pretend to a "victory." The point is not that we need a victory after which we should want a parade, but rather that there is no such thing as a victory — the Gulf War wasn't one either — and we need to recognize that basic truth before we're all turned into fire and fury. The endless bombings and sanctions (who remembers Madeleine Albright saying that killing a half million children was justified?), and the new wars, and troops in Saudi Arabia, and terrorism aimed at getting troops out of Saudi Arabia (what do you think 9/11 was, exactly?), and the further militarization of the Middle East, and horrible illnesses among veterans, and all the other horrors that followed from the Gulf War render grotesque the notion that it was a "victory." Do you know what Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh said to excuse blowing up a building in Oklahoma City? Like a perfect Just War Theorist, he said that he had a higher purpose, so that the building and the people killed in it were merely collateral damage. And do you know why people didn't fall for that line? Because McVeigh did not have effective control of any television networks.

By the way, I do believe we should offer Trump a deal: one parade for each war he ends.

Pete's candidate number 2 for a Just War is Bosnia. As every war has a Hitler, the man Tony Blair labeled Hitler this time was Slobodan Milosevic. While very far from an admirable leader, he was lied about, the war failed to overthrow him, the creative nonviolent Otpur movement later did overthrow him, and the UN's criminal tribunal later effectively and posthumously exonerated him of his charges in a lengthy ruling on another defendant. The U.S. had worked vigorously for the breakup of Yugoslavia and intentionally prevented negotiated agreements among the parties. Then-U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said, "In its first weeks in office, the Clinton administration has administered a death blow to the Vance-Owen plan that would have given the Serbs 43 percent of the territory of a unified state. In 1995 at Dayton, the administration took pride in an agreement that, after nearly three more years of horror and slaughter, gave the Serbs 49 percent in a state partitioned into two entities."

Three years later came the Kosovo war. The United States believed that, unlike Crimea, Kosovo had the right to secede. But the United States did not want it done, like Crimea, without any people getting killed. In the June 14, 1999 issue of The Nation, George Kenney, a former State Department Yugoslavia desk officer, reported: "An unimpeachable press source who regularly travels with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told this [writer] that, swearing reporters to deep-background confidentiality at the Rambouillet talks, a senior State Department official had bragged that the United States 'deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept.' The Serbs needed, according to the official, a little bombing to see reason." Jim Jatras, a foreign policy aide to Senate Republicans, reported in a May 18, 1999, speech at the Cato Institute in Washington that he had it "on good authority" that a "senior Administration official told media at Rambouillet, under embargo" the following: "We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing, and that’s what they are going to get." In interviews with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, both Kenney and Jatras asserted that these were actual quotes transcribed by reporters who spoke with a U.S. official.

The United Nations did not authorize the United States and its NATO allies to bomb Serbia in 1999. Neither did the United States Congress. The U.S. engaged in a massive bombing campaign that killed large numbers of people, injured many more, destroyed civilian infrastructure, hospitals, and media outlets, and created a refugee crisis. This destruction was accomplished through lies, fabrications, and exaggerations about atrocities, and then justified anachronistically as a response to violence that it helped generate.

In the year prior to the bombing some 2,000 people were killed, a majority by Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas who, with support from the CIA, were seeking to incite a Serbian response that would appeal to Western humanitarian warriors. At the same time, NATO member Turkey was committing much larger atrocities, with 80% of their weapons coming from the United States. But Washington didn't want war with Turkey, so no propaganda campaign was built around its crimes; instead weapons shipments to Turkey were increased. In contrast, a slick propaganda campaign regarding Kosovo established a model that would be followed in future wars, by connecting exaggerated and fictional atrocities to the Nazi holocaust. A photo of a thin man seen through barbed wire was reproduced endlessly. But investigative journalist Philip Knightly determined that it was probably the reporters and photographers who were behind the barbed wire, and that the place photographed, while ugly, was a refugee camp that people, including the fat man standing next to the thin man, were free to leave. There were indeed atrocities, but most of them occurred after the bombing, not before it. Most of Western reporting inverted that chronology.

Last night Pete also labeled the Israeli Six Days War of 1967 as the quintessentially justifiable war on the part of Israel. Israeli General Matti Peled, popular hero of that war, has a son named Miko Peled who wrote this six years ago:

"In 1967, as today, the two power centers in Israel were the IDF high command and the Cabinet. On June 2, 1967, the two groups met at IDF headquarters. The military hosts greeted the generally cautious and dovish prime minister, Levi Eshkol, with such a level of belligerence that the meeting was later commonly called 'the Generals' Coup.' The transcripts of that meeting, which I found in the Israeli army archives, reveal that the generals made it clear to Eshkol that the Egyptians would need 18 months to two years before they would be ready for a full-scale war, and therefore this was the time for a preemptive strike. My father told Eshkol: 'Nasser is advancing an ill-prepared army because he is counting on the Cabinet being hesitant. Your hesitation is working in his advantage.' . . . Throughout the meeting, there was no mention of a threat but rather of an 'opportunity' that was there, to be seized. Within short order, the Cabinet succumbed to the pressure of the army, and the rest, as they say, is history."

A so-called preemptive mass-slaughter, followed by decades of illegal genocidal occupation, justified by a danger 18-months away, I propose, bears zero similarity to what you should do if you see someone confronted by a mugger in a dark alley in Harrisonburg. As mugging victims and surgeons and good Samaritans never justify their behavior with war analogies, how about we do them the same courtesy and not justify war with analogies to such unrelated endeavors?

In 2011, so that NATO could begin bombing Libya, the African Union was prevented by NATO from presenting a peace plan to Libya.

In 2003, Iraq was open to unlimited inspections or even the departure of its president, according to numerous sources, including the president of Spain to whom U.S. President Bush recounted Hussein's offer to leave.

In 2001, Afghanistan was open to turning Osama bin Laden over to a third country for trial.

Go back through history. The United States sabotaged peace proposals for Vietnam. The Soviet Union proposed peace negotiations before the Korean War. Spain wanted the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine to go to international arbitration before the Spanish American War. Mexico was willing to negotiate the sale of its northern half. In each case, the U.S. preferred war. Peace has to be carefully avoided.

So when someone asks me what I would do instead of attacking Afghanistan, I have three answers, progressively less flippant.
  1. Don't attack Afghanistan.
  2. Prosecute crimes as crimes, don't commit new crimes. Use diplomacy and the rule of law.
  3. Work to create a world with systems of justice and dispute resolution and economies and politics that do without the institution of war altogether.
PS: All the questions will be about World War II regardless, so I'll just save that one for the Q&A.

Thank you.


Video of Debate on Is War Ever Justifiable?

posted Feb 13, 2018, 3:31 AM by David Swanson

On February 12, 2018, I debated Pete Kilner on the topic of "Is War Ever Justifiable?" (Location: Radford University; Moderator Glen Martin; videographer Zachary Lyman). Here is video:



The two speakers' bios:

Pete Kilner is a writer and military ethicist who served more than 28 years in the Army as an infantryman and professor at the U.S. Military Academy. He deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct research on combat leadership. A graduate of West Point, he holds an MA in Philosophy from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Education from Penn State.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie and War Is Never Just. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. He holds an MA in philosophy from UVA.

Who won?

Prior to the debate, people in the room were asked to indicate in an online system that displayed the results on a screen whether they thought the answer to "Is War Ever Justifiable?" was yes, no, or they were not sure. Twenty-five people voted: 68% yes, 20% no, 12% not sure. After the debate the question was posed again. Twenty people voted: 40% yes, 45% no, 15% not sure. Please use the comments below to indicate whether this debate moved you in one direction or the other.

These were my prepared remarks for the debate:

Thank you for hosting this debate. Everything I say in this quick overview will unavoidably raise more questions than it answers, many of which I've tried to answer at length in books and much of which is documented at

Let's begin with the fact that war is optional. It's not dictated to us by genes or outside forces. Our species has been around at least 200,000 years, and anything that could be called war no more than 12,000. To the extent that people mostly shouting at each other and waving sticks and swords can be called the same thing as a person at a desk with a joystick sending missiles into villages halfway around the world, this thing we call war has been far more absent than present in human existence. Many societies have done without it.

The notion that war is natural is, frankly, ridiculous. A great deal of conditioning is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a great deal of mental suffering, including higher suicide rates, is common among those who have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress disorder from war deprivation.

War does not correlate with population density or resource shortages. It is quite simply most used by societies most accepting of it. The United States is high on, and by some measures, dominates the top of that list. Surveys have found the U.S. public, among wealthy nations, the most supportive of --quote-- "preemptively" attacking other countries. Polls have also found that in the U.S. 44% of people claim they would fight in a war for their country, while in many countries with equal or higher quality of life that response is under 20%.

U.S. culture is saturated with militarism, and the U.S. government is uniquely devoted to it, spending almost the same as the rest of the world combined, despite most of the other big spenders being close allies whom the U.S. pushes to spend more. In fact, every other nation on earth spends closer to the $0 per year spent by nations like Costa Rica or Iceland than to the over $1 trillion spent by the U.S. The United States maintains some 800 bases in other people's countries, while all other nations on earth combined maintain a few dozen foreign bases. Since World War II, the United States has killed or helped kill some 20 million people, overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 84 foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries. For the past 16 years, the United States has been systematically damaging a region of the globe, bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria. The United States has so-called “special forces” operating in two-thirds of the world’s countries.

When I watch a basketball game on television, two things are ALMOST guaranteed. UVA will win. And the announcers will thank U.S. troops for watching from 175 countries. That's uniquely American. In 2016 a presidential primary debate question was "Would you be willing to kill hundreds and thousands of innocent children?" That's uniquely American. That doesn't happen in election debates where the other 96% of humanity live. U.S. foreign policy journals discuss whether to attack North Korea or Iran. That, too, is uniquely American. The publics of most countries polled in 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world. Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017.

So, this country has an unusually strong investment in war, though it is far from the only warmaker. But what would it take to have a justifiable war? According to just war theory, a war must meet several criteria, which I find fall into these three categories: the non-empirical, the amoral, and the impossible. By non-empirical, I mean things like "right intention," "a just cause," and "proportionality." When your government says bombing a building where ISIS stashes money justifies killing up to 50 people, there’s no agreed upon, empirical means to reply No, only 49, or only 6, or up to 4,097 people can be justly killed.

Attaching some just cause to a war, such as ending slavery, never explains all the actual causes of a war, and does nothing to justify the war. During a time when much of the globe ended slavery and serfdom without war, for example, claiming that cause as the justification for a war holds no weight.

By amoral criteria, I mean things like being publicly declared and being waged by legitimate and competent authorities. These are not moral concerns. Even in a world where we actually had legitimate and competent authorities, they wouldn’t make a war any more or less just. Does anyone really picture a family in Yemen hiding from a constantly buzzing drone and expressing gratitude that the drone has been sent to them by a competent authority?

By impossible, I mean things like "be a last resort," "have a reasonable prospect of success", "keep noncombatants immune from attack," "respect enemy soldiers as human beings," and "treat prisoners of war as noncombatants." To call something a “last resort” is in reality merely to claim it is the best idea you have, not the only idea you have. There are always other ideas that anyone can think of, even if you're in the role of the Afghans or Iraqis actually being attacked. Studies like those of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan have found nonviolent resistance to domestic and even foreign tyranny to be twice as likely to succeed, and those successes to be far longer lasting. We can look to successes, some partial, some complete, against foreign invasions, over the years in Nazi-occupied Denmark and Norway, in India, Palestine, Western Sahara, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, etc., and dozens of successes against regimes that in many cases have had foreign support.

My hope is that the more that people learn the tools of nonviolence and their power, the more they will believe in and choose to make use of that power, which will increase the power of nonviolence in a virtuous cycle. At some point I can imagine people laughing at the idea that some foreign dictatorship is going to invade and occupy a nation ten times its size, full of people dedicated to nonviolent noncooperation with occupiers. Already, I get a laugh on a frequent basis when people email me with the threat that if I do not support war I had better be prepared to start speaking North Korean or what they call “the ISIS language.” Apart from the nonexistence of these languages, the idea that anybody is going to get 300 million Americans to learn any foreign language, much less do so at gun point, almost makes me cry. I can’t help imagining how much weaker war propaganda might be if all Americans did know multiple languages.

Continuing with the impossible criteria, what about respecting a person while trying to kill her or him? There are lots of ways to respect a person, but none of them can exist simultaneously with trying to kill that person. In fact, I would rank right at the bottom of people who respect me those who were trying to kill me. Remember that just war theory began with people who believed killing someone was doing them a favor. And noncombatants are the majority of casualties in modern wars, so they cannot be kept safe. And there's no reasonable prospect of success available -- the U.S. military is on a record losing streak.

But the biggest reason that no war can ever be justified is not that no war can ever meet all the criteria of just war theory, but rather that war is not an incident, it is an institution.

Many people in the U.S. will concede that many U.S. wars have been unjust, but claim justness for World War II and in some cases one or two since. Others claim no just wars yet, but join the masses in supposing that there might be a justifiable war any day now. It is that supposition that kills far more people than all of the wars. The U.S. government spends over $1 trillion on war and war preparations each year, while 3% of that could end starvation, and 1% could end the lack of clean drinking water globally. The military budget is the only place with the resources needed to try to save the earth's climate. Far more lives are lost and damaged through the failure to spend money well than through the violence of war. And more are lost or put at risk through side-effects of that violence than directly. War and war preparations are the biggest destroyer of the natural environment. Most countries on earth burn less fossil fuel than does the U.S. military. Most superfund disaster sites even within the U.S. are at military bases. The institution of war is the biggest eroder of our liberties even when the wars are marketed under the word "freedom." This institution impoverishes us, threatens the rule of law, and degrades our culture by fueling violence, bigotry, the militarization of police, and mass surveillance. This institution puts us all at risk of nuclear disaster. And it endangers, rather than protects, those societies that engage in it.

According to the Washington Post, President Trump asked Secretary of so-called Defense James Mattis why he should send troops to Afghanistan, and Mattis replied that it was to prevent a bombing in Times Square. Yet the man who tried to blow up Times Square in 2010 said he was trying to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

For North Korea to try to occupy the U.S. would require a force many times larger than the North Korean military. For North Korea to attack the U.S., were it actually capable, would be suicide. Could it happen? Well, look at what the CIA said before the U.S. attacked Iraq: Iraq would be most likely to use its weapons only if attacked. Apart from the weapons not existing, that was accurate.

Terrorism has predictably increased during the war on terrorism (as measured by the Global Terrorism Index). 99.5% of terrorist attacks occur in countries engaged in wars and/or engaged in abuses such as imprisonment without trial, torture, or lawless killing. The highest rates of terrorism are in so-called “liberated” and “democratized” Iraq and Afghanistan. The terrorist groups responsible for the most terrorism (that is, non-state, politically motivated violence) around the world have grown out of U.S. wars against terrorism. Those wars themselves have caused numerous just-retired top U.S. government officials and a few U.S. government reports to describe military violence as counterproductive, as creating more enemies than are killed. 95% of all suicide terrorist attacks are conducted to encourage foreign occupiers to leave the terrorist’s home country. And an FBI study in 2012 said that anger over U.S. military operations abroad was the most commonly cited motivation for individuals involved in cases of so-called homegrown terrorism in the United States.

The facts lead me to these three conclusions:

1) Foreign terrorism in the United States can be virtually eliminated by keeping the U.S. military out of any country that is not the United States.

2) If Canada wanted anti-Canadian terrorist networks on a U.S. scale or just wanted to be threatened by North Korea, it would need to radically increase its bombing, occupying, and base construction around the world.

3) On the model of the war on terrorism, the war on drugs that produces more drugs, and the war on poverty that seems to increase poverty, we would be wise to consider launching a war on sustainable prosperity and happiness.

Seriously, for a war on North Korea, for example, to be justifiable, the U.S. would have to have not gone to such efforts over the years to avoid peace and provoke conflict, it would have to be innocently attacked, it would have to lose the ability to think so that no alternatives could be considered, it would have to redefine "success" to include a scenario in which a nuclear winter might cause much of the earth to lose the ability to grow crops or eat (by the way, Keith Payne, a drafter of the new Nuclear Posture Review, in 1980, parroting Dr. Strangelove, defined success to allow up to 20 million dead Americans and unlimited non-Americans), it would have to invent bombs that spare noncombatants, it would have to devise a means of respecting people while killing them, and in addition, this remarkable war would have to do so much good as to outweigh all the damage done by decades of preparing for such a war, all the economic damage, all the political damage, all the damage to the earth's land, water, and climate, all the deaths by starvation and disease that could have been so easily spared, plus all the horrors of all the unjust wars facilitated by the preparations for the dreamed-of just war, plus the risk of nuclear apocalypse created by the institution of war. No war can meet such standards.

So called "humanitarian wars," which is what Hitler called his invasion of Poland and NATO called its invasion of Libya, do not, of course, measure up to just war theory. Nor do they benefit humanity. What the U.S. and Saudi militaries are doing to Yemen is the worst humanitarian disaster in years. The U.S. sells or gives weapons to 73% of the world's dictators, and gives military training to many of them. Studies have found that there is no correlation between the severity of human rights abuses in a country and the likelihood of Western invasion of that country. Other studies have found that oil importing countries are 100 times more likely to intervene in civil wars of oil exporting countries. In fact, the more oil a country produces or owns, the higher the likelihood is of third-party interventions.

The U.S., like any other war-maker, has to work hard to avoid peace.

The U.S. has spent years rejecting out of hand peace negotiations for Syria.

In 2011, so that NATO could begin bombing Libya, the African Union was prevented by NATO from presenting a peace plan to Libya.

In 2003, Iraq was open to unlimited inspections or even the departure of its president, according to numerous sources, including the president of Spain to whom U.S. President Bush recounted Hussein's offer to leave.

In 2001, Afghanistan was open to turning Osama bin Laden over to a third country for trial.

In 1999, the U.S. State Department deliberately set the bar too high, insisting on NATO's right to occupy all of Yugoslavia, so that Serbia would not agree, and would therefore supposedly need to be bombed.

In 1990, the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate withdrawal from Kuwait. It asked that Israel also withdraw from Palestinian territories and that itself and the whole region, including Israel, give up all weapons of mass destruction. Numerous governments urged that negotiations be pursued. The U.S. chose war.

Go back through history. The United States sabotaged peace proposals for Vietnam. The Soviet Union proposed peace negotiations before the Korean War. Spain wanted the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine to go to international arbitration before the Spanish American War. Mexico was willing to negotiate the sale of its northern half. In each case, the U.S. preferred war.

Peace would not seem so difficult if people stopped going to such efforts to avoid it -- like Mike Pence in a room with a North Korean trying not to indicate awareness of her presence. And if we stopped letting them scare us. Fear can make lies and simplistic thinking believable. We need courage! We need to lose the fantasy of total safety that drives us to create ever greater danger!

And if the United States had a democracy, rather than bombing people in the name of democracy, I wouldn't have to convince anyone of anything. The U.S. public already favors military reductions and greater use of diplomacy. Such moves would stimulate a reverse arms race. And that reverse arms race would open more eyes to the possibility of advancing further in that direction -- the direction of what is required by morality, what is necessary for the habitability of the planet, what we must pursue if we are to survive: the complete abolition of the institution of war.

One more point: When I say that war can never be justified, I'm willing to agree to disagree about wars in the past if we can agree on wars in the future. That is, if you think that before nuclear weapons, before the end of legal conquest, before the general end of colonialism, and before the growth in understanding of the powers of nonviolence, some war like World War II was justified, I disagree, and I can tell you why at length, but let's agree that we now live in a different world in which Hitler does not live and in which we must abolish war if our species is to continue.

Of course if you want to travel back in time to World War II, why not travel back to WWI, the disastrous conclusion of which had smart observers predicting WWII on the spot? Why not travel back to the West's support for Nazi Germany in the 1930s? We can look honestly at a war in which the U.S. was not threatened, and about which the U.S. president had to lie to gain support, a war that killed several times the number of people in the war as were killed in the Nazis' camps. A war that followed the West's refusal to accept the Jews whom Hitler wanted to expel, a war that was entered through provocation of the Japanese, not innocent surprise. Let's learn history instead of mythology, but let's recognize that we can choose to do better than our history going forward.

Is Fred Warmbier Grieving or Warmongering?

posted Feb 6, 2018, 12:37 PM by David Swanson

Fred Warmbier, whose son Otto Warmbier, a student here at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, died shortly after returning from North Korea, is reportedly traveling to the Winter Olympics with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

It’s hard to imagine the incredible grief of losing a son and of having seen a son suffer. I would not risk being perceived as advising a father how to grieve were it not for the risk I perceive of creating tens of millions more such grieving parents.

It’s hard, I imagine, for some people to say no to a vice president or a president, although I’d do it in a heartbeat and a number of Philadelphia Eagles seem to have managed it. For some people, it may be easier to think of saying yes as carrying no import, while saying no would be some sort of a statement. I think, on the contrary, that a grieving family has a ready-made polite excuse to demur from trips abroad or even from serving as props at State of the Union addresses. The Washington Post described the scene at Trump’s State of the Union:

“‘You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires truly us all,’ Trump said to the Warmbiers as they sat in the audience, their younger children Austin and Greta behind them. ‘Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with total American resolve.'”

According to The Telegraph:

“Mr Warmbier is travelling as a guest of the vice president, and his presence is being seen as a signal to Pyongyang that Washington has no intention of easing the pressure on the regime of Kim Jong-un over its human rights record. . . . Mr Pence told reporters that he would use his trip to South Korea to make it clear that ‘all options are on the table’ to deal with the threat posed by North Korea. . . . Mr Pence has also described North Korea’s behaviour in recent weeks as a ‘charade’ designed to steal the limelight away [sic] South Korea’s hosting of the games. A key part of that will be reminding the world that North Korea is ‘the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet’, an aide to Mr Pence told The Korea Times.”

In Trump’s State of the Union he expanded on the theme of using war in response to actions unrelated to war:

“Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these horrible dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict and unmatched power is the surest means of our true and great defense.”

Now, a rival is just something that you call a rival, and I suppose it can challenge your “values” merely by not sharing them. Perhaps it can challenge your “interests” and “economy” through trade agreements. But those are not acts of war. They don’t require or justify acts of war in response.

The Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review proposes nuclear weapons to counter even “cyber warfare” and of course for “deterrence,” but also for “achievement of U.S. objectives if deterrence fails.” One of the authors of that document once proposed that a “successful” war could kill 20 million Americans plus unlimited non-Americans. He made that statement before it was widely known that a nuclear winter could threaten the viability of the crops that feed billions.

Let’s assume the best of Otto Warmbier and the worst of the North Korean government. Let’s assume the young man was tortured and murdered for a petty offense. Such a crime is an outrage. The United States ought to join the International Criminal Court and pursue the investigation and prosecution of such offenses. But such a crime is in no way, shape, or form a legal, moral, or practical justification for war.

Such a crime is, however, wonderful war propaganda. The U.S. military is in Syria right now in large part because people saw videos of murders with knives. Before NATO destroyed Libya, it alleged rape and torture, as the U.S. had with Iraq as well. Prior to the first Gulf War, fictional stories of removing babies from incubators were central. Afghanistan needed to be invaded and occupied for 16 years and counting, in part, because it restricted women’s rights. Wild stories of death camps made Serbia an enemy. Panama needed bombing because its ruler used drugs with prostitutes. U.S. drones are engaged in warfare in a half-dozen countries because people imagine that war is somehow law enforcement without all the troublesome due process (like finding out whom you are killing). The entire “war on terror” is based on the refusal to treat the crimes of 9/11 as crimes. And the single biggest mover of U.S. weapons sales today is a collection of grievances against Russia, few of them proven, and none of them acts of war.

Yet there is no actual correlation between the severity of human rights abuses and the launching of wars. If there were, the United States would be bombing Saudi Arabia, rather than helping it bomb Yemen. And there is no worse human rights abuse than launching a war.

The sanctions that the U.S. takes the lead in imposing on North Korea are abusive. And of course North Korea accuses the United States of being racist, unjust, full of poverty and crime and mass-surveillance and the world’s biggest prison system. True or false or hypocritical, such accusations are not justifications for war, and there can be no accusation greater than that of engaging in or threatening war.

Family members of those killed on September 11, 2001, formed a group called Peaceful Tomorrows and said they had “united to turn our grief into action for peace. By developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice, we hope to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism. Acknowledging our common experience with all people affected by violence throughout the world, we work to create a safer and more peaceful world for everyone.”

I urge the Warmbiers to not make themselves part of the marketing of any war.

Way Outside the Choir

posted Jan 23, 2018, 8:26 AM by David Swanson

Having spent years going to events organized by peace groups, at which people tell each other they should stop “preaching to the choir,” I’ve started doing another kind of event. I debate war supporters in front of mixed crowds that include lots of war supporters, as well as people who haven’t really formed an opinion yet on the question of whether war is ever justifiable.

The first one of these I did was in Vermont. It was to be a debate with a just-war-theory professor. I sent him my thoughts beforehand, and he immediately bailed out. So, I published my thoughts as a book. And the organizers found another similar professor who did the debate. ROTC students in uniform, veterans groups, and other people who had been subjected to at least a decade of U.S. television and text books heard arguments for the abolition of war, likely for the first time. People I spoke with told me they’d been moved. We didn’t take a good before and after count of people to numerically gauge the results — something I hope to do going forward.

The second such debate I did was in Philadelphia. In both of these first two, my debate partner was not fully enthused by the role, I think. I got the impression — perhaps because it was part of the argument they made — that they preferred being more anti-war than other people. Of course “But I’m more anti-war than everyone else,” is not a very good argument for war. I think I may now have found a debate partner who truly believes in the justifiability of war. I don’t expect to persuade him otherwise, but I do expect to persuade lots of other people otherwise.

We’ve set up the following events:

Upcoming Debates on “Is War Ever Justifiable?”

A Debate: Is War Ever Justifiable?

Pete Kilner and David Swanson

Pete Kilner is a writer and military ethicist who served more than 28 years in the Army as an infantryman and professor at the U.S. Military Academy. He deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct research on combat leadership. A graduate of West Point, he holds an MA in Philosophy from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Education from Penn State.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie  and War Is Never Just. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. He holds an MA in philosophy from UVA.

Radford University, February 12, 2018, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Bonnie Hurlburt Auditorium (Hurlburt Building). Jefferson St. Radford, VA 24142. FLYER PDF.

Eastern Mennonite University, February 13, 2018, 8 p.m. Common Grounds Coffeehouse, University Commons building, Eastern Mennonite University. 1301-1311 College Ave, Harrisonburg, VA 22802 FLYER PDF.

#WarHurtsEarth — April 22, 2018, Earth Day Actions for Peace and Planet

posted Jan 17, 2018, 7:04 AM by David Swanson

World Beyond War joins with Just World Educational in promoting Earth Day events for on or about April 22, 2018, that will challenge the greatest destroyer of the earth: the war industry.

World Beyond War’s Coordinating Committee member Gar Smith has edited the anthology, The War and Environment Reader, which makes an excellent guide to this issue.

Here are some preliminary ideas from Just World Educational:

  • Work with you or others you might suggest to organize one or more dedicated “War Hurts Earth” events in your community.
  • Plan good outreach to local media so that the fact and content of these events get well covered—and also, contribute Opinion pieces or Letters to the Editor around these issues to local or national media.
  • Create and make freely available a basic fact-sheet providing data on issues like the contribution the Pentagon makes to carbon emissions, the number of acres deforested during the US-Vietnam War, etc.
  • Create and make freely available a series of graphic images (such as the above one), that people can use in their publicity.
  • Work with Just World Books to make discounted copies of The War and Environment Reader or other print resources available for sale at your events.
  • Help out with networking in communities nationwide, to maximize engagement with your local initiatives.

Hashtag: #WarHurtsEarth.

Here are some resources from World Beyond War:

Work with or form a World Beyond War chapter.

Use our events resources.

Check out the speakers in our speakers bureau. You may want to invite one or more of them to speak — in person or via live or recorded video. We can make something work!

No War 2017 Videos. Here’s a 2-hour highlights video, good for an event all by itself.

See also: Scarred Lands Film Clips and Scarred Lands Companion Shorts.

Here are flyers, powerpoints, articles, and books on war and the environment.

Here is World Beyond War’s summary of why we must end war to save the planet for life.

Dress appropriately:



Support the New Poor People’s Campaign

posted Jan 17, 2018, 7:02 AM by David Swanson

The new poor people's campaign should get every ounce of support we can find and generate. I say that without the qualifications and caveats I would usually include, because the Poor People's Campaign is doing something that may not be strictly unprecedented in U.S. history but is certainly extremely rare in recent decades. It's pursuing a worthy noble goal, that of ending poverty, while making ending war a central part of its vision, and doing so voluntarily.

Of course this makes sense given the heritage of Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for the world.

Of course it makes sense given the major economic drain that military spending is, the preying of recruiters on the poor, the environmental injustice of military base pollution in poor neighborhoods, the militarization of police by the military in poor neighborhoods, the culture of violence that the military promotes, the culture of racism that war propaganda fuels and feeds off, and the incredible wonders that could be done if military money was diverted toward good ends.

Yet, typically, when there's a multi-issue or other-issue coalition or mass effort put together in the United States, it takes a full-court-press of private and public lobbying, badgering, and shaming to get the organizers to slip the word peace in somewhere on page 38, or to allow a peace contingent to march at the back of the parade. It's easy to miss, but I think we ought to recognize, the significance of the Poor People's Campaign taking on war front-and-center and unasked.

I might overlook it more than others because of the religious focus of this campaign. I'm not religious and am convinced we'd be better off without religion. But we're very obviously better off with these religious activists.

These are the new poor people's campaign's principles (I've added bolding):

  1. We are rooted in a moral analysis based on our deepest religious and constitutional values that demand justice for all. Moral revival is necessary to save the heart and soul of our democracy.
  2. We are committed to lifting up and deepening the leadership of those most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation and to building unity across lines of division.
  3. We believe in the dismantling of unjust criminalization systems that exploit poor communities and communities of color and the transformation of the “War Economy” into a “Peace Economy” that values all humanity.
  4. We believe that equal protection under the law is non-negotiable.
  5. We believe that people should not live in or die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist. Blaming the poor and claiming that the United States does not have an abundance of resources to overcome poverty are false narratives used to perpetuate economic exploitation, exclusion, and deep inequality.
  6. We recognize the centrality of systemic racism in maintaining economic oppression must be named, detailed and exposed empirically, morally and spiritually. Poverty and economic equality cannot be understood apart from a society built on white supremacy.
  7. We aim to shift the distorted moral narrative often promoted by religious extremists in the nation from personal issues like prayer in school, abortion, sexuality, gun rights, property rights to systemic injustices like how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.
  8. We will build up the power of people and state-based movements to serve as a vehicle for a powerful moral movement in the country and to transform the political, economic and moral structures of our society.
  9. We recognize the need to organize at the state and local level—many of the most regressive policies are being passed at the state level, and these policies will have long and lasting effect, past even executive orders. The movement is not from above but below.
  10. We will do our work in a non-partisan way—no elected officials or candidates get the stage or serve on the State Organizing Committee of the Campaign. This is not about left and right, Democrat or Republican but about right and wrong.
  11. We uphold the need to do a season of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to break through the tweets and shift the moral narrative. We are demonstrating the power of people coming together across issues and geography and putting our bodies on the line to the issues that are affecting us all.
  12. The Campaign and all its Participants and Endorsers embrace nonviolence. Violent tactics or actions will not be tolerated.

I've bolded that last sentence because of its importance and rarity, even if it seems separable from the agenda of ending war. I think it's intimately connected.

This excellent set of principles debunks the notion that the poor are too busy struggling for food and shelter to care about something as abstract as foreign policy. These principles recognize that the war economy requires those impacted by it to care. Yet, it's not just selfish caring. What is to be valued, it says above, is all humanity. Peace activists sometimes ask to "bring our war dollars home." Not only is that a selfish idea. It's also an idea that depends on one's not really grasping how much money war dollars is. Over $1 trillion in the U.S. alone every year for militarism is enough to transform this country AND all the other countries. We do not have to choose.

At World Beyond War we maintain that one of the key reasons to end war is that war impoverishes us:

war-costsDirect Expenses:

War has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war — or what’s thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government’s discretionary budget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.

Not every well-known measure of military spending accurately conveys the reality. For example, the Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks the United States near the peaceful end of the scale on the factor of military spending. It accomplishes this feat through two tricks. First, the GPI lumps the majority of the world’s nations all the way at the extreme peaceful end of the spectrum rather than distributing them evenly.

Second, the GPI treats military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) or the size of an economy. This suggests that a rich country with a huge military can be more peaceful than a poor country with a small military. This is not just an academic question, as think tanks in Washington urge spending a higher percentage of GDP on the military, exactly as if one should invest more in warfare whenever possible, without waiting for a supposed defensive need.

In contrast to the GPI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) lists the United States as the top military spender in the world, measured in dollars spent. In fact, according to SIPRI, the United States spends as much on war and war preparation as most of the rest of the world combined. The truth may be more dramatic still. SIPRI says U.S. military spending in 2011 was $711 billion. Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project says it was $1,200 billion, or $1.2 trillion. The difference comes from including military spending found in every department of the government, not just “Defense,” but also Homeland Security, State, Energy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Veterans Administration, interest on war debts, etc. There’s no way to do an apples-to-apples comparison to other nations without accurate credible information on each nation’s total military spending, but it is extremely safe to assume that no other nation on earth is spending $500 billion more than is listed for it in the SIPRI rankings.

While North Korea almost certainly spends a much higher percentage of its gross domestic product on war preparations than the United States does, it almost certainly spends less than 1 percent what the United States spends.

Indirect Expenses:

Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twice as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures.  Economists calculate the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan have cost, not the $2 trillion spent by the U.S. government, but a total of $6 trillion when indirect expenses are considered, including future care of veterans, interest on debt, impact on fuel costs, lost opportunities, etc. This doesn’t include the much greater cost of the increased base military spending that accompanied those wars, or the indirect costs of that spending, or the environmental damage.

The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked. For example, Iraq’s society and infrastructure have been destroyed. There is extensive environmental damage, a refugee crisis, and violence lasting well beyond the war.  The financial costs of all the buildings and institutions and homes and schools and hospitals and energy systems destroyed is almost immeasurable.

homelessWar Spending Drains an Economy:

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs — with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

Recent cuts in certain areas to the U.S. military have not produced the economic damage forecast by the weapons companies.

So, in the short term, military spending is worse than nothing economically. In the long term it may be even worse. Military spending does not produce anything of use to people but depletes people’s supply of useful goods.

War Spending Increases Inequality:

Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved.  As a result, war spending works to concentrate wealth in a small number of hands, from which a portion of it can be used to corrupt government and further increase or maintain military spending.

War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:

While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained. The leading war-making nation in the world, the United States, has 5% of the world’s population but consumes a quarter to a third of various natural resources. That exploitation would be unfair and undesirable even if sustainable. The fact is that this consumption of resources cannot be sustained. The resources are nonrenewable, and their consumption will ruin the earth’s climate and ecosystems before supplies are exhausted.

Fortunately, greater consumption and destruction does not always equal a superior standard of living. The benefits of peace and international cooperation would be felt even by those learning to consume less. The benefits of local production and sustainable living are immeasurable. And one of the largest ways in which wealthy nations consume the most destructive resources, such as oil, is through the very waging of the wars, not just through a lifestyle supposedly permitted by the wars. What’s needed is greater ability to imagine a shift in spending priorities. Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.

World Beyond War also argues that humanity and the world need $2 trillion a year for better things than war:

windIt would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  That sounds like a lot of money to you or me.  But if we had $2 trillion it wouldn’t.  And we do.

It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  Again, that sounds like a lot. Let’s round up to $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don’t share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away.

But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning “college debt” can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as “human sacrifice”), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices.  What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, this country were catching up and helping to lead in the other direction?

(Note that education, like healthcare, is an area where the U.S. government already spends more than enough to make it free but spends it corruptly.)

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, and the same investment again, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and of nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year.  Taking it up to $100 billion — never mind $523 billion! — would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering.  It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth.  A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world.  Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added — only if the $1 trillion came from where it really ought to come from.

Ceasing to fund militarism would save a great many lives and halt the counterproductive work of antagonizing the world and generating enemies. But moving even a fraction of that money into useful places would save many times that number of lives and begin generating friendship instead of animosity.

Now, most people in the United States, and many people in a lot of wealthy nations find themselves to be struggling.  How can they think about a massive rescue plan for the rest of the world?  They shouldn’t.  They should think about a massive rescue plan for the entire world, including their own corner of it.  The United States could end poverty at home and transition to sustainable practices while going great distances toward helping the world do the same, and have money left over. The climate doesn’t belong to one part of the earth. We’re all in this leaky little boat together. But $1 trillion a year is a truly mammoth amount of money.  It’s $10 billion 100 times.  Very few things are funded with $10 billion, almost nothing with $100 billion.  A whole new world opens up if military funding stops. Options include tax cuts for working people and a shift in power to state and local levels.  Regardless of the approach, the economy benefits from the removal of military spending.  The same spending in other areas, even in tax cuts for working people, creates more jobs and better paying jobs.  And there’s enough savings to make sure that every worker who needs it is retrained and assisted in making a transition.  And then the $1 trillion doubles to $2 trillion if the rest of the world demilitarizes as well.

It sounds like a dream, and surely it must be a dream. Don’t we need military spending to protect ourselves and police the planet? We do not. We have other means of protection. The militarism is making us less safe. And the rest of the planet is screaming at the top of its lungs that it would like to cease being policed by a self-appointed and not truly international police force that does more damage than it claims to prevent and leaves ruined nations in its wake after each effort of supposed nation building.

Why do other wealthy nations not find it necessary to spend even 10% of what the United States spends on so-called defense? Well, most of their military spending, like most U.S. military spending serves no defensive purpose.  Even if one still believed in military defense, defense means a coast guard and border patrol, anti-aircraft weapons, tools for fighting off a feared invasion, the fear of which would diminish rapidly if nations moved toward departments of actual defense.  Weapons in the seas and skies of the world and outerspace are not defensive. Troops permanently stationed in the majority of the world’s nations, as U.S. troops are, is not defensive.  It’s preemptive.  It’s part of the same logic that leads to aggressive wars aimed at removing possible future threats, real or imaginary.

One need not believe even in the necessity of a scaled back, truly defensive military. Studies of the past century have found that nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression.  If one nation were to attack another in a demilitarized world, these things should happen: the people of the attacking nation should refuse to take part, the people of the attacked nation should refuse to recognize an invader’s authority, people of the world should go to the attacked nation as peace workers and human shields, images and facts of the attack should be made visible everywhere, governments of the world should sanction the government responsible but not its people, those responsible should be tried in international court, and disputes should be brought to international arbitration.

trainsBecause war and war preparation is not needed to protect us and is widely acknowledged to generate hostility, thus making us less safe, we can list all of its consequences on the same side of a cost-benefit analysis.  There are no benefits that could not be better created without war.  The costs are extensive: the killing of large numbers of men, women, and children in what have become very one-sided slaughters, the remaining violence that lasts for years to come, the destruction of the natural environment that can last for millennia, the erosion of civil liberties, the corruption of government, the example of violence taken up by others, the concentration of wealth, the wasting each and every year of $2 trillion.

Here’s a dirty little secret: war can be abolished.  When dueling was abolished, people didn’t keep defensive dueling.  Ending war entirely means ending defensive war.  But nothing is lost in that bargain, as stronger tools than war have been developed for defensive needs during the 70 years since the last war that many like to claim proves war’s capacity for goodness and justness.  Isn’t it odd that people have to skip back over so many dozens of wars to a radically different epoch to find what they think of as a legitimate example of what has been our top public investment ever since?  But this is a different world from the world of World War II.  No matter what you make of the decades of decisions that created that crisis, we face very different crises today, we’re not likely to face that same type of crisis — especially if we invest in preventing it — and we do we have different tools with which to handle it.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes.  And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true?  We imagine that for 5 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war.  But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind.  Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption.  Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war.  That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.  So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first?  Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?  The fact is that if we are going to adequately address climate change and environmental collapse, we are going to need that $2 trillion that the world invests in war.

War is not a tool for bettering the world.  War costs the aggressor nation severely, but those costs are as nothing compared to the damage inflicted on the attacked.  Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia have suffered, and will go on suffering severely from recent U.S. wars. These wars take large numbers of lives, almost all of them on one side, almost all of them the lives of people who did nothing to the nations attacking them.  But, while war costs a great many lives, many times that number of lives could be saved by redirecting a fraction of the enormous pile of money spent on war.  For far less than war and war preparation cost us, we could transform our lives at home, and make our country the most beloved on earth by providing aid to others.  For what it has cost to wage the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, we could have provided the world with clean water, ended starvation, built countless schools, and created green energy sources and sustainable agriculture practices in much of the globe, including our own homes.  What protection would the United States need from a world to which it had given schools and solar energy?  And what would the United States choose to do with all of the money left over?  Isn’t THAT an exciting problem to be faced with?

Do we need war to prevent something worse?  There isn’t something worse.  Wars are not effective tools for preventing larger wars.  Wars are not effective at preventing genocides.  Rwanda needed a history with less war, and it needed police, it did not need bombs.  Nor are those killed by a foreign government any less tragically killed than those killed by their own government.  War is the worst thing we’ve invented.  We don’t speak of good slavery or just rape or humanitarian child abuse.  War is in that category of things that are always evil.

Aren’t we stuck with war because we’re humans?  There are few things we say that about.  Not slavery, not blood feuds, not dueling, not waterboarding, not sweatshops, not the death penalty, not nuclear weapons, not child abuse, not cancer, not hunger, not the filibuster or the senate or the electoral college or fundraising phone calls at dinner time.  Almost nothing that we dislike do we claim to be permanently stuck with against our will.  How many major institutions requiring great funding and the coordinated efforts of huge numbers of people can you think of that we claim to be stuck with forever against our will?  Why war?

If we were to create a new institution that required a global investment of some $2 trillion a year, about $1 trillion of that from the United States alone, and if this institution hurt us economically, if it damaged our natural environment severely, if it stripped us of our civil liberties, if it funneled our hard-earned wealth into the hands of a small-number of corrupt profiteers, if it could only function through the participation of large numbers of young people the majority of whom would suffer physically or mentally and who would be made significantly more likely to commit suicide, if merely recruiting these young people and persuading them to take part in our new institution cost us more than it would to provide them with college educations, if this new institution made self-government more difficult, if it made our nation feared and hated abroad, and if its primary function was to kill large numbers of innocent children and grandparents and people of all ages, I can think of a lot of comments we might hear in response to our creation of this marvelous new institution.  One of them is not “Gee it’s too bad we’re stuck with this monstrosity forever.” Why in the world would we be stuck with it?  We made it.  We could unmake it.

withscarvesAh, someone might say, but a new creation is different from an institution that has always been with us and always will be. No doubt that’s true, but war is actually a new creation.  Our species goes back 100,000 to 200,000 years.  War goes back only 12,000.  And during these 12,000 years, war has been sporadic.  Most societies at most times have done without it.  “There’s always been a war somewhere,” people say.  Well, there’s always not been a war many somewheres.  Cultures that have used war have later abandoned it.  Others have picked it up.  It has not followed resource shortages or population density or capitalism or communism.  It has followed cultural acceptance of war.  And people who have done without war have not suffered for its absence.  There is not a single recorded case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder created by war deprivation. On the contrary, most people suffer severely from participation in war and must be carefully conditioned prior to taking part.  Since war ceased to involve hand-to-hand combat, it has been as open to women as to men, and women have begun to take part; it would be just as possible for men to cease taking part.

At this moment the vast majority of people on earth are represented by governments that invest less in war and war preparation than the United States does — significantly less, measured absolutely or as a percentage of nations’ economies.  And some people are represented by governments that have not waged war in decades or centuries, some by governments that have literally put their military in a museum.

Of course, one might argue that the influence of the military industrial complex and its lobbyists and propagandists is invincible.  But few would believe that.  Why would something as new as the military industrial complex be permanent?  Certainly ending war will require more than telling pollsters we want it ended.  Certainly our governments are less than ideally responsive to public opinion.  Certainly we are up against skilled people who will struggle to keep the cushy deal they’ve got.  But popular activism has stood up to the war machine many times, including in rejecting proposed U.S. missile strikes on Syria in the summer of 2013.  What can be stopped once can be stopped again and again and again and again forever, until the idea of it ceases to be thinkable.

Letter from Charlottesville to Ukraine

posted Jan 14, 2018, 10:21 PM by David Swanson



Letter from Charlottesville to Ukraine

By David Swanson

Nazi rallies in the news in recent years have most prominently been held here in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, and in Ukraine. I want to send thoughts of solidarity to those in Ukraine resisting fascism. And I want to let you know that some of us are urging our government in Washington, D.C., to stop supporting fascism both in the United States and in Ukraine. In addition, we are pointing to the examples being set by so many shithole countries around the world that are 100% free of fascist rallies.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brandenberg v. Ohio in 1969 that “advocacy directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action . . . likely to incite or produce such action” is not protected by the First Amendment. Sheriff Shithole has said these things: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” “See, in the good old days this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.” “You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days—you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.” “See the first group, I was nice. Oh, take your time. The second group, I was pretty nice. The third group, I’ll be a little more violent. And the fourth group, I’ll say get the hell out of here!” “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.” “You see, in the good old days, law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this. A lot quicker. In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast — but today, everybody’s politically correct.” “He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back. That’s what we need more of.”

Numerous incidents of violence followed these comments. John Franklin McGraw punched a man in the face at a Trump event, and then told Inside Edition that “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” Trump said that he was considering paying McGraw’s legal bills. Since Trump’s election and inauguration, his comments appearing to incite violence have continued, as have incidents of violence in which those participating in violence have pointed to Trump as justification. On July 2, 2017, Trump tweeted a video of himself body slamming a man with an image of “CNN” superimposed on him. In August 2017, participants in a racist rally here in Charlottesville credited Trump with boosting their cause. Their violence included actions that have led to a murder charge. Trump publicly minimized the offense and sought to blame “many sides.”

Surprisingly perhaps to some Americans, though not to Ukrainians, U.S. support for Nazism in Ukraine did not begin with Trump. In fact, it is well established that in 2014 the U.S. government helped a new government come to power in Ukraine, a new government supported and armed and trained by the United States from that moment to this, a new government including and empowering Nazis. Professor Stephen Cohen’s account of the Ukrainian coup is summarized in The Nation:

“Which brings Cohen to another prevailing media myth: that what occurred on Maidan in February 2014 was a ‘democratic revolution.’ Whether it was in fact a ‘revolution’ can be left to future historians, though most of the oligarchic powers that afflicted Ukraine before 2014 remain in place four years later, along with their corrupt practices. As for ‘democratic,’ removing a legally elected president by threatening his life hardly qualifies. Nor does the peremptory way the new government was formed, the constitution changed, and pro-Yanukovych parties banned. Though the overthrow involved people in the streets, this was a coup. How much of it was spontaneous and how much directed, or inspired, by high-level actors in the West also remains unclear. But one other myth needs to be dispelled. The rush to seize Yanukovych’s residence was triggered by snipers who killed some 80 or more protesters and policemen on Maidan. It was long said that the snipers had been sent by Yanukovych, but it has now been virtually proven that the shooters were instead from the neo-fascist group Right Sector among the protesters on the square. (See, for example, the reports of the scholar Ivan Katchanovski.)

“The antidemocratic origins of today’s Kiev regime continue to afflict it. Its president, Petro Poroshenko, is intensely unpopular at home. It remains pervasively corrupt. Its Western-financed economy continues to fail, as even some of its ardent American cheerleaders now admit. And for the most part it continues to refuse to implement its obligations under the 2015 Minsk II peace accords, above all granting the rebel Donbass territories enough home rule to keep them in the Ukrainian state. Meanwhile, Kiev is semi-hostage to armed ultranationalist battalions, whose ideology and symbols include proudly neo-fascist ones, which hate Russia and today’s Western “civilizational” values almost equally. It may be said that the Donbass rebel ‘republics’ have their own ugly traits, but it should be added that they fight only in defense of their own territory against the armies of Kiev and are not sponsored by the US government.

“Adding to this explosive mix, the Trump administration now promises to supply more weapons. The official pretext is plainly contrived: to deter Putin from ‘further aggression against Ukraine,’ for which he has shown no desire or intention whatsoever. Nor does it make any geopolitical or strategic sense. Neighboring Russia can easily upgrade its weapons to the rebel provinces. Indeed, the danger is that Kiev’s failing regime will interpret the American arms as a signal from Washington for a new offensive against the Donbass in order to regain support at home—but which will end again in military disaster for Kiev while perhaps bringing neo-fascists, who may well come into possession of the American weapons, closer to power, and the new US-Russian Cold War closer to a larger, more direct war between the nuclear superpowers. (US trainers will need to be sent with the weapons, adding to the some 300 already there. If any are killed by Russian-backed rebel forces, even if unintentionally, what will be Washington’s reaction?)”

Let’s recall with Max Blumenthal what happened in 2014:

“White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protesters destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established ‘autonomous zones’ in and around Kiev.

“An Anarchist group called AntiFascist Union Ukraine attempted to join the Euromaidan demonstrations but found it difficult to avoid threats of violence and imprecations from the gangs of neo-Nazis roving the square. “They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists,” one of its members said. ‘There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult.’

“‘There are lots of Nationalists here, including Nazis,’ the anti-fascist continued. ‘They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters. . . .

“. . . Svoboda’s openly pro-Nazi politics have not deterred Senator John McCain from addressing a EuroMaidan rally alongside Tyahnybok, nor did it prevent Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland from enjoying a friendly meeting with the Svoboda leader this February. . . . In a leaked phone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, Nuland revealed her wish for Tyahnybok to remain ‘on the outside,’ but to consult with the US’s replacement for Yanukovich, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, ‘four times a week.’ At a December 5, 2013 US-Ukraine Foundation Conference, Nuland boasted that the US had invested $5 billion to ‘build democratic skills and institutions’ in Ukraine, though she did not offer any details. ‘The Euro-Maidan movement has come to embody the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies,’ Nuland proclaimed. Two weeks later, 15,000 Svoboda members held a torchlight ceremony in the city of Lviv in honor of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator.”

This past November, The Hill reminded us that The reality of neo-Nazis in Ukraine is far from Kremlin propaganda:

“As the Trump administration mulls sending weapons to Ukraine, the question of far-right forces employed by the Kiev government has returned to the forefront. Some Western observers claim that there are no neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine, chalking the assertion up to propaganda from Moscow. Unfortunately, they are sadly mistaken. There are indeed neo-Nazi formations in Ukraine. This has been overwhelmingly confirmed by nearly every major Western outlet. The fact that analysts are able to dismiss it as propaganda disseminated by Moscow is profoundly disturbing. It is especially disturbing given the current surge of neo-Nazis and white supremacists across the globe.

“The most infamous neo-Nazi group in Ukraine is the 3,000-strong Azov Battalion, founded in 2014. Prior to creating Azov, its commander, Andriy Biletsky, headed the neo-Nazi group Patriot of Ukraine, members of which went on to form the core of Azov. Biletsky had stated that the mission of Ukraine is to ‘lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival … against the Semite-led Untermenschen.’ Azov’s logo is composed of two emblems — the wolfsangel and the Sonnenrad — identified as neo-Nazi symbols by the Anti-Defamation League. The wolfsangel is used by the U.S. hate group Aryan Nations, while the Sonnenrad was among the neo-Nazi symbols at this summer’s deadly march in Charlottesville. Azov’s neo-Nazi character has been covered by the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, the Telegraph and Reuters, among others. On-the-ground journalists from established Western media outlets have written of witnessing SS runes, swastikas, torchlight marches, and Nazi salutes. They interviewed Azov soldiers who readily acknowledged being neo-Nazis. They filed these reports under unambiguous headlines such as ‘How many neo-Nazis is the U.S. backing in Ukraine?‘ and ‘Volunteer Ukrainian unit includes Nazis.'”

That last headline is from USA Today, which tells us: “A volunteer brigade with self-proclaimed Nazis fighting alongside government troops against Russian-backed separatists is proving to be a mixed blessing to its cause. Though the 900-member Azov Brigade adds needed manpower to repulse the rebels, members who say they are Nazis are sparking controversy, and complaints of abuses against civilians have turned some residents against them.”

But don’t take it from all these media reports. Take it, if you prefer, from the U.S. House of Representatives, which voted on June 10, 2015 to approve an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act to block U.S. training of the Azov battalion. But the U.S. has armed Azov, and is pouring more weapons into Ukraine, escalating the conflict.

Meanwhile the Nazis are marching 20,000 strong in Ukraine, and the U.S. tax payers who fund their weaponry would fiercely object if they had any idea.

The United States needs to create a policy of not providing weapons to any government that includes or encourages Nazism.

How It Could Finally Be Possible to Prosecute War as a Crime

posted Dec 27, 2017, 11:19 AM by David Swanson

War is a crime. The International Criminal Court has just announced that it will finally treat it as a crime, sort-of, kind-of. But how can war’s status as a crime effectively deter the world’s leading war-maker from threatening and launching more wars, large and small? How can laws against war actually be put to use? How can the ICC’s announcement be made into something more than a pretense?

The Kellogg-Briand Pact made war a crime in 1928, and various atrocities became criminal charges at Nuremberg and Tokyo because they were constituent parts of that larger crime. The United Nations Charter maintained war as a crime, but limited it to “aggressive” war, and gave immunity to any wars launched with U.N. approval.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) could try the United States for attacking a country if (1) that country brought a case, and (2) the United States agreed to the process, and (3) the United States chose not to block any judgment by using its veto power at the U.N. Security Council. Desirable future reforms obviously include urging all U.N. members to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ, and eliminating the veto. But what can be done now?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) can try individuals for various “war crimes,” but has thus far tried only Africans, though for some time now it has claimed to be “investigating” U.S. crimes in Afghanistan. Although the U.S. is not a member of the ICC, Afghanistan is. Desirable future reforms obviously include urging all nations, including the United States, to join the ICC. But what can be done now?

The ICC has finally announced that it will prosecute individuals (such as the U.S. president and secretary of “defense”) for the crime of “aggression,” which is to say: war. But such wars must be launched after July 17, 2018. And those who can be prosecuted for war will be only citizens of those nations that have both joined the ICC and ratified the amendment adding jurisdiction over “aggression.” Desirable future reforms obviously include urging all nations, including the United States, to ratify the amendment on “aggression.” But what can be done now?

The only way around these restrictions, is for the U.N. Security Council to refer a case to the ICC. If that happens, then the ICC can prosecute anyone in the world for the crime of war.

This means that for the force of law to have any chance of deterring the U.S. government from threatening and launching wars, we need to persuade one or more of the fifteen nations on the U.N. Security Council to make clear that they will raise the matter for a vote. Five of those fifteen have veto power, and one of those five is the United States.

So, we also need nations of the world to proclaim that when the Security Council fails to refer the case, they will bring the matter before the U.N. General Assembly though a “Uniting for Peace” procedure in emergency session to override the veto. This is what was just done in December 2017 to overwhelmingly pass a resolution that the U.S. had vetoed, a resolution condemning the U.S. naming Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Not only do we need to jump through each of these hoops (a commitment to a Security Council vote, and a commitment to override the veto in the General Assembly) but we need to make evident beforehand that we will be certain or likely to do so.

Therefore, World Beyond War is launching a global petition to the national governments of the world asking for their public commitment to refer any war launched by any nation to the ICC with or without the Security Council. Click here to add your name.

After all, it is not only U.S. wars that should be prosecuted as crimes, but all wars. And, in fact, it may prove necessary to prosecute junior partners of the United States in its “coalition” wars prior to prosecuting the ring leader. The problem is not one of lack of evidence, of course, but of political will. The U.K., France, Canada, Australia, or some other co-conspirator may be brought by global and internal pressure (and the ability to circumvent the U.N. Security Council) to submit to the rule of law prior to the United States doing so.

A key detail is this: how much organized murder and violent destruction constitutes a war? Is a drone strike a war? Is base expansion and a few home raids a war? How many bombs make a war? The answer should be any use of military force. But in the end, this question will be answered by public pressure. If we can inform people of it and persuade the nations of the world to refer it to trial, then it will be a war, and therefore a crime.

Here’s my New Year’s resolution: I vow to support the rule of law, that might may no longer make right.

Charlottesville Finally Gets A Peace Monument

posted Dec 11, 2017, 7:12 AM by David Swanson

Well, we tried a petition, and I tried a TED talk (in fact two of em), and the Daily Progress daily newspaper, and Channel 19 four times: one, two, three, four, and Channel 29 too. No opposition whatsoever has been voiced to the idea of putting up a peace monument in Charlottesville, a town famously full of war monuments, including several for a war that has fallen out of favor.

Finally, the Charlottesville City Council has listened. A peace monument is not only in the works but is already visible right on the Downtown Mall pedestrian street in good ol’ Cville.

Ha! Just kidding!

Thus far we do still lack any public governmental body that has indicated any inclination whatsoever to give a flying fig.

But the popularity of peace *is* being used temporarily to sell stuff at this store. If you have to buy stuff, I encourage you to buy it there.

Sadly, “Peace on Earth” in December is camouflaged language, invisible to the human brain, like people singing “Imagine” by John Lennon in church. If “Peace on Earth” stays up in January, and people start to read it as a collection of three words with meaning to them, that will be more significant. I’m still willing to bet that it could stay up all year round and never be protested. Yet I’m sure it won’t last. We didn’t vote for this marketing gimick or elect anyone who did. We have no ability to keep it there.

But this peace monument does raise possibilities for motivating the creation of a public one. It was store windows in Charlottesville putting up $8 stickers back in the day that created living wage policies. Store windows have displayed hearts in opposition to fascist rallies, and rainbows in opposition to homophobia. What if stores were to display peace signs with the message “We want a peace monument in Cville”?

That wouldn’t win over elected officials who dream of bigger careers in a Democratic Party funded by weapons dealers. But it could win over elected officials not suffering under such burdens — and we do have some of those. It could be worth a try.

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