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Ending the Mindset That Gets Us Into War

Sunday, 20 May 2012 12:17 By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | News Analysis

May 20, 2012, militarized Chicago - Next month in Baltimore they're going to celebrate the War of 1812. That's what we do with wars. We say they're the last resort. We say they're hell. We say they're for the purpose of eliminating themselves: we fight wars for peace. Although we never keep peace for wars. We claim to wage only wars we have been forced into despite all possible effort to find a better way. And then we celebrate the wars. We keep the wars going for their own sake after all the excuses we used to get them started have expired. The WMDs have not been found. Osama bin Laden's been killed. Al Qaeda is gone from the country where we're fighting it. Nobody's threatening Benghazi anymore. But the wars must go on! And then we'll celebrate them. And we'll celebrate the old ones too, the ones that were fought here, the ones that were in their day not quite so heavily painted as last resorts or humanitarian missions.

Last year Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee persuaded Congress to create an Iraq-Afghanistan Wars holiday. It's on our calendars now along with Loyalty Day (formerly May Day), Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day), Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Day, and of course September 11th, among many others. Last week there was an Armed Forces Spouses Appreciation Day. The military holiday calendar is like the Catholic saints' days now: there's something every day of the year.

But there's no celebration of the times we avoided war. We claim to prefer peace to war, but we don't make heroes of those presidents or Congresses who most avoided war. In fact, we erase them. Our history books jump from war to war as if nothing happened in between. Nobody celebrates 1811, only 1812. Even the peace movement doesn't celebrate the past decade's prevention, thus far, of a war on Iran.

Some might say that once an unavoidable war begins we have to celebrate the brave sacrifices of the soldiers and sailors. Even if the war was a bad idea, we can't blame those who participated in it. They were too ignorant and obedient to do otherwise, but they were brave and loyal. We weren't in their shoes. We had other means to pay for college. So we are obliged to celebrate their moral failings. We must value bravery and loyalty above intelligent independent thinking. And, because they ignorantly and obediently supported the war, we must do so too -- even if we honestly don't.

As if there is not bravery, solidarity, and self-sacrifice to be celebrated in our history of nonviolent protest, labor struggles, women's struggles, the environmentalist movement, and in resistance to war -- in all the efforts that have improved and are improving our lives. Freedom isn't free, as the saying goes, but we don't honor the work that actually achieves it. "War will exist," President Kennedy privately wrote, "until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today." And here's the hard part of that: the conscientious objector will not be honored and respected as long as the warrior is. We have to choose.

Thousands have refused to deploy or refused to fight in our current wars, gone AWOL, or hidden out rather than harassing the occupied populations for a day. They have no medals, no ribbons, no holiday, and never enough support or gratitude. They should be honored. We should appreciate Veterans For Peace because they are for peace, not because they are veterans.

Frederick Douglas taught himself to read in Baltimore, a far more significant event than a flag surviving a barrage of cannon balls. But the StarSpangledBaltimore.com website tells us: "The War of 1812 represents what many see as the definitive end of the American Revolution. A new nation, widely regarded as an upstart, successfully defended itself against the largest, most powerful navy in the world during the maritime assault on Baltimore and Maryland. America's victory over Great Britain confirmed the legitimacy of the Revolution." Wow. That sounds significant, even noble.

In reality, the U.S. government chose to launch the War of 1812 three decades after the revolution had ended. Many nations have won their independence without war. War leaves behind bitter hatred and resentment of the sort now raging in Libya, albeit out of the news. Prior to the War of 1812, the United States had built up a navy to go and fight in what we now call Libya, introducing suicide bombing by sailing a ship into port there and blowing it up. The United States wanted to trade with the world. The British objected, captured U.S. ships, and forced the men on board to sail for Britain. That offense, combined with war fever lingering from a generation back, became grounds for war. But there were other reasons, including the drive to take more land from Native Americans, to conquer Florida, and to add Canada to the fledgling U.S. empire.

Congressman Samuel Taggart said, "The conquest of Canada has been represented to be so easy as to be little more than a party of pleasure. We have, it has been said, nothing to do but to march an army into the country and display the standard of the United States, and the Canadians will immediately flock to it and place themselves under our protection. They have been represented as ripe for revolt, panting for emancipation from a tyrannical Government, and longing to enjoy the sweets of liberty under the fostering hand of the United States." Taggart went on to present reasons why such a result was by no means to be expected, and of course he was right. But being right is of little value when war fever takes hold.

The expectation that people will appreciate being occupied, whether a pretense or sincere and truly stupid, didn't work out in Iraq, and didn't work out two centuries ago in Canada. The Soviets went into Afghanistan in 1979 with the same stupid expectation of being welcomed as friends, and the United States has been repeating the same mistake there since 2001. Of course, such expectations would never work out for a foreign army in the United States either, no matter how admirable the people invading us might be or how miserable they might find us.

What if Canada and Iraq had indeed welcomed U.S. occupations? Would that have produced anything to outweigh the horror of the wars? Norman Thomas speculated as follows:

"[S]uppose the United States in the War of 1812 had succeeded in its very blundering attempt to conquer all or part of Canada. Unquestionably we should have school histories to teach us how fortunate was the result of that war for the people of Ontario and how valuable a lesson it finally taught the British about the need for enlightened rule! Yet, to-day the Canadians who remain within the British Empire would say they have more real liberty than their neighbors to the south of the border!"

The War of 1812 would seem to have undone the legitimacy of the Revolution rather than confirming it. In 1812, the choice of war resulted in the burning of our national capital, the death in action of some 3,800 U.S. and British fighters, and the death of 20,000 U.S. and British from all causes, including disease. About 76 were killed in the Battle of Baltimore, plus another 450 wounded. Nowadays an incident in Baltimore that resulted in that kind of carnage would be described with words other than "glorious," and "successful." Peace was made by negotiation after the War of 1812, just as it could have been made prior to the killing.

Is saying so an insult to the troops whose cause the war was? Well, 12.7% of U.S. troops deserted during the War of 1812, facing the serious risk of torture, mutilation, or execution. Does that sound like an army that had chosen that war? Many soldiers believed they served their state, not a nation, and not an empire. Many refused to invade Canada. The Governor of Vermont called his state's militia home, during the war, to serve his state. Now there's an action worth celebrating! There's a lesson to be learned. Our states' militias have been nationalized, making it much easier to use them abroad. In fact, each state's national guard has been paired up with a foreign nation's military as a means of spreading imperial influence. Maryland is matched up with Bosnia-Herzegovina. This murder-exchange program began as a quiet way of spreading U.S. militarism east toward Russia, but now it's throughout Africa and the rest of the world.

The U.S. military is never disbanded anymore. The wars are never fought here anymore, unless you count drone pilots. The wars kill mostly civilians and almost entirely non-Americans. The preparation for wars and stationing of armed forces around the globe costs far more money and effort than the wars themselves. Taxes never go away in between wars anymore. We don't get our civil liberties back anymore. Much of the military is privatized. A lot has changed. But some things have not changed. More than ever we require lies before we'll tolerate war. Even though many of the lies must now depict the wars as philanthropic, we would still never get wars off the ground without racism, bigotry, and genocidal emotions -- or without waving flags.

Prior to 2001, the Taliban was willing to turn Osama bin Laden over to a third country if he was promised a fair trial and no death penalty, and if some evidence of his guilt of crimes were offered. In 2001, the Taliban warned the United States that bin Laden was planning an attack on American soil. In July 2001 the United States was known to have plans to take military action against the Taliban by mid-October.

When the United States attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the Taliban again offered to negotiate for the handing over of bin Laden. When President George W. Bush refused, the Taliban dropped its demand for evidence of guilt and offered simply to turn bin Laden over to a third country. Bush rejected this offer and continued bombing. At a March 13, 2002, press conference, Bush said of bin Laden "I truly am not that concerned about him." When President Barack Obama announced, in May 2011, that he had killed bin Laden, the war didn't even slow down.

Bin Laden, as a justification for the longest war in U.S. history, had always had weaknesses. As with Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gadaffi or Manuel Noriega, past U.S. support for bin Laden had to be kept out of the discussion. And a crime had to be transformed into an act of war. A crime by a non-state group was used to implicate the nation of Afghanistan, even though 92% of Afghans not only didn't support the crime of 9-11, but they have to this day never heard about it.

If bin Laden was not the reason for over a decade of war in Afghanistan, perhaps al Qaeda more generally was the cause. When President Obama continued the war in 2009 and tripled the number of U.S. troops in it, he and his subordinates argued that if the Taliban had power it would work with al Qaeda, and that would allow al Qaeda to endanger the United States. Some of the same officials who made this claim, including Richard Holbrooke, at other times admitted that al Qaeda had virtually no presence in Afghanistan, that the Taliban was not likely to work with al Qaeda, and that al Qaeda could easily plan attacks on the United States in a dozen nations other than Afghanistan.

From 2001 to 2007, there was a sevenfold increase in fatal jihadist attacks around the world, a predictable if tragic result of the Global War on Terror. The U.S. State Department responded to this dangerous escalation in terrorism by discontinuing its annual report on terrorism.

If bin Laden and al Qaeda and terrorism were not the reasons for the war, maybe the war was intended to spread democracy. But the United States has claimed to be building nations in dozens of places and never succeeded yet. The Afghan government propped up by the U.S. occupation supports wife-beating and barely even pretends to hold legitimate elections. It is extremely difficult to bring people rights and freedoms while bombing them and kicking in their doors at night. While U.S. media only mentions U.S. deaths and suffering, never showing images of the suffering of Afghans in this war, the pretense that the war is for the benefit of Afghans is thin. Nearly 2,000 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan, as compared to approximately 30,000 Afghan men, women, and children. The United States doesn't even count the number of people it kills, a seemingly necessary step if we actually wanted to calculate whether we are bestowing more benefit than harm. In fact, a strong majority of the people of the United States wants the war ended, as does a majority of Afghans. But racial and religious bigotry allow many in the United States to hold the self-deceptive belief that Afghans can gain from a war they oppose, since they just don't know any better. In fact, many Americans blindly accept that the U.S. government or president knows best even if their policies appear to us to be the most extreme folly. And vastly more Americans tolerate a system of misrepresentative government in which majority opinion has no say.

If the war is based on lies and making us less safe, at least we can take comfort in the fact that it is succeeding. Or can we? In April 2012, echoing numerous other reports, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis concluded that all claims of success and progress have been dishonest: "Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth," he wrote, "when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable."

As the U.S. public has turned against the war, many members of Congress have depicted themselves as opponents and critics of the war, while still in many cases continuing to vote for its funding. A Congressional report in 2010 documented payoffs made by the U.S. to the Taliban for the safe passage of goods through Afghanistan, payoffs that amounted to either the first or second largest source of income for the Taliban, the other being opium. Afghans, including those fighting for the Taliban, often signed up for training and pay from the United States and then departed, sometimes repeating the process a number of times. The United States has been funding, training, and arming both sides of the war.

Yesterday the House refused to hold a vote on ending the war in 2014 because it might have passed, but held a vote on ending the war now which garnered only 113 votes -- 24 of which came from members who turned around and voted for the underlying bill even though it was going to pass easily, a bill that kept in place the power to imprison indefinitely without charge, sabotaged nuclear disarmament steps, put a so-called missile defense base on the east coast of the United States, and required the positioning of planes, bombs, ships, and munitions in the Straight of Hormuz. On the plus side, this week a federal judge named Katherine Forrest found the decency to block the indefinite detention powers. "During times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act," said Orwell. Give Katherine Forrest some revolutionary credit.

Every week or two there has been an atrocity story in the media from Afghanistan. A pattern has developed of the U.S. military passing the buck to NATO, NATO denying everything, NATO revising its lies as new evidence emerges, and NATO finally admitting the crime, with the blame going to a few rogue "bad apples." But you cannot have a war without atrocities, and the atrocities are the least of it. The urination on corpses is not as serious a crime as the creation of the corpses in the first place.

Myths about how a recent escalation in Iraq had turned a bad war into a good and successful war were applied by Obama to the completely different context of Afghanistan, in combination with familiar rhetoric about supporting troops, as if the war were for their benefit, and as if they had volunteered to be in it, even though they were being endlessly redeployed to a war that had nothing to do with the responsibilities they had signed up for and sworn an oath to, and even though their top cause of death was suicide. Sending more troops into war so that previous troops should not have killed themselves in vain is a hopeless endeavor. Escalating hopeless wars, supposedly in order to end them, actually serves only two purposes: it allows a president to appear more militaristic, and it enriches war profiteers.

"We did not choose this war," said Obama on May 1st, as if the crime of 9-11 had been continually compelling him to fight a war in Afghanistan year after year. But the war was not defensive. Afghanistan was not attacking the United States. The war was not authorized by the United Nations. And it was not declared by Congress, as no war has been since 1941. When Russia began talking about a preemptive strike against U.S. missile bases on Russia's western border this month, there was nothing the United States could say against the justifiability of such an act. Not after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and the threats being made toward Iran.

The tissue of lies surrounding the war on Afghanistan is typical. Last year's bombing of Libya (also led, accompanied, and followed by lies) was intense and sustained, but U.S. drones are also being used to kill in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. They are used to kill individuals, including U.S. citizens, including children, including both identified individuals and people targeted because of a pattern of behavior that is deemed suspicious, and of course including many people who simply happen to be too close to an intended or accidental target. If drone strikes are law enforcement, the president or his designate is judge, jury, and executioner. The U.S. Congress and public are left in the dark. The nation where the strike is made is violated. If drone strikes are war, they are war with one army safely ensconced thousands of miles from the battlefield, and the other army blindfolded and handcuffed on the battlefield with their wives and children and grandparents along.

Rightwing columnist Charles Krauthammer opposes the use of drones within the United States, saying, "I don't want regulations, I don't want restrictions, I want a ban on this. Drones are instruments of war. The Founders had a great aversion to any instruments of war, the use of the military inside even the United States. It didn't like standing armies, it has all kinds of statutes of using the army in the country. A drone is a high-tech version of an old army and a musket. It ought to be used in Somalia to hunt bad guys but not in America. I don't want to see it hovering over anybody's home."

Because of course there are no homes in Somalia. There are no anybodies in Somalia. There are only things you hunt in Somalia. Only 5% of humanity is humanity, and instruments of war are perfectly fine as a way to handle the other 95%.

War is not politics by other means. War is racism by other means.

We learned last week some details of another U.S. military official teaching the genocide of Muslims at an institution of supposedly higher learning in Virginia. In this case Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley had been teaching his students at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk to use the lessons of Hiroshima to wipe out whole cities at once in an effort to eliminate Muslims. These scandals are too common to be dismissed. Our public discourse is full of words like Muslim extremists, Islamofascists, terrorists -- words that demonize, dehumanize, and disguise. Illegal Alien. Underclass. Stakeholders. Defense Department. Humanitarian Intervention. Homeland. Targeted Strike. Collateral Damage. Evildoers. Status of Forces Agreement. Iranian Threat. We've now put people in prison in some cases (such as Tarek Mehanna), and murdered them in others (such as Tariq Ali), for less that what Dooley has done, but those people were Muslim. Official policy is not unconnected from common prejudice.

What are we so afraid of?

Bombing Libya was never popular. Liberal backers of humanitarian bombing hold it up as a model, but for many years to come the war that keeps war spending and war waging acceptable in the greatest number of minds will continue to be World War II.

This is quite a paradox, because World War II was among the worst events the earth has witnessed. It killed 60 or 70 million people. It's hard to imagine an alternative that would have been worse.

The killing of 6 million Jews? For a decade leading up to the war, the United States and other western nations refused to accept Jewish refugees from Germany or to allow Germany to send them to Africa. Only peace could have stopped the killing once begun, whereas the war fueled it. World War II only became about saving the Jews in retrospect.

The takeover of the world by Nazism? The West had armed and funded the Nazis' rise, doing nothing to build civil resistance within Germany. But resistance within Germany would have eventually overthrown Hitler. A German war on the Soviet Union was almost certainly doomed, with or without the Western front. And exactly which part of Nazism was held off by slaughtering tens of millions on both sides? The United States had Japanese Americans, not to mention Native Americans, in camps, African Americans under apartheid and used for medical experiments and sterilizations, a military industrial complex put in charge of our government, Nazi scientists imported to the United States to help develop weapons of mass destruction and torture. The United States now embraces preemptive wars, targeted killings, and the militarization of the police. Nazism didn't win, but it may be an oversimplification to say that Nazism lost.

Roosevelt lied repeatedly about German attacks on allegedly innocent U.S. ships, just as Wilson had done before him. Roosevelt lied about forged Nazi documents. But the U.S. public remained opposed to war until Pearl Harbor. The United States had left Napoleon and other war-crazed conquerors to their fate in Europe up until World War I's Wilsonian propaganda campaign and crackdown on civil liberties. It would have done so again without Pearl Harbor.

By December 7, 1941, Roosevelt had already instituted the draft, activated the National Guard, created a huge Navy in two oceans, traded old destroyers to England in exchange for the lease of its bases in the Caribbean and Bermuda, and — just 11 days before the supposedly unexpected attack — he had secretly ordered the creation of a list of every Japanese and Japanese-American person in the United States.

Wars, as opposed to occupations, are not defensive. Nor are they waged defensively. Wars between militarized nations cannot be begun by one party alone. It takes two to tango. Such wars have ended now. World War II was the last one. We don't bomb white families anymore. Wealthy nations don't go to war with each other anymore. They meet at Camp David or in Chicago to plot the exploitation of the poor nations of the world. Although, on Thursday the prime minister of Russia, the borders of whose nation NATO is building bases on, said the result could be all-out nuclear war.

But there was something positive about how World War II ended. Although it was very one-sided, there was justice. For the first time ever, people were put on trial for the crime of making war. The United Nations was established. The Geneva Conventions were put in place. The United States claimed to be on the side of international law.

Now, one objection is that the United States has really been on the side of international law for everyone else. In recent years the pretense of anything more than that has become completely implausible to most observers, and U.S. backing for torture, assassination, and aggressive military strikes is influencing the world in the direction of anarchy rather than order.

Another objection is that we had the story wrong to begin with. War was only prosecuted as a crime after World War II because of the Kellogg Briand Pact which had banned war in 1928. Only, the Kellogg-Briand Pact had very intentionally banned all war, not merely aggressive war, which was the charge employed against the Nazis and Japanese. All war was illegal when the U.N. Charter was created opening up two loopholes for wars. Under the U.N. Charter war is legal if defensive or U.N. authorized. What's not to love, for a nation positioned both to dominate the U.N. and to portray anything it chooses as an act of defense? The Geneva Conventions further legitimized war by detailing how it could be properly waged. Abolishing war ceases to be necessary, if regulated civilized wars are the new order of the day. And another institution was created to ensure more war-making, a little club called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. Not to mention the war-making secret agency so misleadingly called Central Intelligence.

But what was the Kellogg-Briand Pact? Where did it come from? Raise your hand if you know who Salmon Oliver Levinson was. This is the topic of my book "When the World Outlawed War," whereas the lies used in the service of war are the topic of "War Is A Lie," and the machinery they've produced and what it's doing to us is the subject of "The Military Industrial Complex at 50."

Levinson was a lawyer in Chicago who decided that war should be illegal. It should be stigmatized. It should not have the approval and sanction of the law. Instead international laws should be developed in writing, and disputes should be settled in court. There was a trend that could be followed. Slavery had been done away with, as had torture, blood feuds, and duelling. And not only aggressive duelling was outlawed, but defensive duelling as well. Violence was banned as a means of settling individual disputes. The same could be done with disputes between nations, Levinson believed.

In fact, such trends have continued. Violence is down across our culture and the world, in our treatment of children, pets, farm animals, wild animals, spouses, and rivals, in our entertainment, and in our foreign relations. War kills a smaller percentage of humanity now than ever. It is less acceptable. Truman told the Senate to help the Soviets or the Nazis, whichever side was losing, so that more people would die. Obama, in contrast, must sell his wars as life-saving. On the other hand, our weapons have advanced to apocalyptic levels, environmental destruction and economic injustice end lives whether or not we call them violent, and the United States has become a war economy with presidents given the powers of kings. Which trends will win out is up to us.

Levinson and his friends in Chicago -- Jane Addams among them -- launched a movement to outlaw war, a movement for Outlawry. It united a peace movement that was split between isolationism and involvement. It was, however, a peace movement the likes of which we haven't seen since. The peace movement of the 1920s sought to eliminate war, not reform it. Robber barons provided the funding. The Carnegie Endowment for Peace was still loyal to the mission Carnegie gave it of eliminating war. That institution still exists, but it openly forswears the mission for which it was created and works on other things. Similarly, Nobel prizes still sometimes went, as required by Nobel's will, to those working to abolish standing armies. Women's groups, many of them having sold out during World War I, pushed hard for the abolition of war in the 20s. So did the National League of Women Voters, the Young Women's Christian Association, the National Association of Parents and Teachers, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and the American Legion. These groups, which would never back the outlawing of war today, did so in the past and succeeded. The U.S. State Department's website lists the Kellogg-Briand Pact as in force with 67 nations committed to it, including the United States and Iran.

It was easier to oppose war when it wasn't the main business of the U.S. government. Farmers wanted Europeans to buy fewer weapons and more grain. Imagine trying to persuade the State Department to that position today! But the Peace Pact happened because of a great deal of work by dedicated activists willing to sacrifice for a multi-generational project aimed at eliminating an instrument of public policy older than the United States itself. They built an uncomfortably large coalition, combining Europhiles and advocates for legal alcohol with isolationists and prohibitionists. They avoided tying their movement to an elected official or a party. They focused on education and organizing. They focused on the moral case against war as mass murder. They lobbied the Senate endlessly to guarantee ratification.

We still have wars, of course. But we also have murder and theft and coveting, and yet we manage to remember Moses as having started something useful. The vision that the Outlawrists had has never yet been fully implemented. That's our job. Coming out of the experience of World War I, the Outlawrists opposed alliances that would use war to punish war. They would have opposed the idea of NATO, even as originally conceived, with everything they had.

NATO used to claim a defensive purpose, but that purpose was to make war in defense of its members. NATO has militarized the nations of Europe against the will of their people. NATO maintains hundreds of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear European nations, in blatant violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. NATO threatens Russia with missile base construction on its borders, wasting billions provoking a war with so-called missile defense systems that do not work and are designed as part of an aggressive attack.

NATO does not bomb all nations abusing human rights; nor does NATO's bombing alleviate human suffering. The pro-Western oil dictators in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are not targets. In fact, they were special guests of the Queen of England yesterday along with the dictators from Abu Dhabi, Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, and Swaziland. Former dictators Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt were not targets. NATO's real motivations include a desire to control the global flow of oil, to support dictators who've supported U.S./NATO wars and prisons and torture operations, to back Israel's expansionist agenda, and to surround and threaten the nation of Iran.

But the problem is deeper. The Nation magazine editorialized this week: "In theory, a NATO that pooled Europe's and America's political and military resources and acted only on UN Security Council authorization could be a useful part of the world's security architecture." No it could not. Security architecture is something we used to call standing armies. Murder has not become more acceptable. Mass murder by undemocratic institutions unaccountable to us has not become more acceptable. Obama's new Atrocity Prevention Board has in mind one tool for preventing atrocities, and that tool is atrocities. On Thursday night at a debate in Chicago the moderator announced that NATO is an anti-violence organization. The Outlawrists sought precisely to outgrow the idea that anti-violence organizations would employ violence.

France was a partner with the United States in creating the Kellogg-Briand Pact. France has now joined Canada and Australia in announcing a withdrawal from Afghanistan, backing off however to now claim it will leave only the non-combat combatants. We should celebrate even that incomplete withdrawal tomorrow. We should also celebrate that day, August 27, 1928, in Paris when the nations of the world said they'd never fight again. We need peace holidays as well as war ones. We need Mothers Day, MLK Day, and the International Day of Peace. We should have a Kellogg-Briand Day too.

The majority of Americans want the wars ended and the military spending cut. And the more they learn, the more they agree. The message of peace is one that you can expect people to agree with even if they don't at first. The surveys done by Steven Kull and others establish this expectation. So, never believe your television. Never doubt the popular demand for peace. Never stop spreading the word. Never accept that mass murder has been civilized. Know your own strength.

"And these words shall then become," wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley,

"Like Oppression's thundered doom

"Ringing through each heart and brain,

"Heard again - again - again -

"Rise like Lions after slumber

"In unvanquishable number -

"Shake your chains to earth like dew

"Which in sleep had fallen on you -

"Ye are many - they are few."

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

David Swanson

David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."


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Ending the Mindset That Gets Us Into War

Sunday, 20 May 2012 12:17 By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | News Analysis

May 20, 2012, militarized Chicago - Next month in Baltimore they're going to celebrate the War of 1812. That's what we do with wars. We say they're the last resort. We say they're hell. We say they're for the purpose of eliminating themselves: we fight wars for peace. Although we never keep peace for wars. We claim to wage only wars we have been forced into despite all possible effort to find a better way. And then we celebrate the wars. We keep the wars going for their own sake after all the excuses we used to get them started have expired. The WMDs have not been found. Osama bin Laden's been killed. Al Qaeda is gone from the country where we're fighting it. Nobody's threatening Benghazi anymore. But the wars must go on! And then we'll celebrate them. And we'll celebrate the old ones too, the ones that were fought here, the ones that were in their day not quite so heavily painted as last resorts or humanitarian missions.

Last year Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee persuaded Congress to create an Iraq-Afghanistan Wars holiday. It's on our calendars now along with Loyalty Day (formerly May Day), Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day), Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Day, and of course September 11th, among many others. Last week there was an Armed Forces Spouses Appreciation Day. The military holiday calendar is like the Catholic saints' days now: there's something every day of the year.

But there's no celebration of the times we avoided war. We claim to prefer peace to war, but we don't make heroes of those presidents or Congresses who most avoided war. In fact, we erase them. Our history books jump from war to war as if nothing happened in between. Nobody celebrates 1811, only 1812. Even the peace movement doesn't celebrate the past decade's prevention, thus far, of a war on Iran.

Some might say that once an unavoidable war begins we have to celebrate the brave sacrifices of the soldiers and sailors. Even if the war was a bad idea, we can't blame those who participated in it. They were too ignorant and obedient to do otherwise, but they were brave and loyal. We weren't in their shoes. We had other means to pay for college. So we are obliged to celebrate their moral failings. We must value bravery and loyalty above intelligent independent thinking. And, because they ignorantly and obediently supported the war, we must do so too -- even if we honestly don't.

As if there is not bravery, solidarity, and self-sacrifice to be celebrated in our history of nonviolent protest, labor struggles, women's struggles, the environmentalist movement, and in resistance to war -- in all the efforts that have improved and are improving our lives. Freedom isn't free, as the saying goes, but we don't honor the work that actually achieves it. "War will exist," President Kennedy privately wrote, "until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today." And here's the hard part of that: the conscientious objector will not be honored and respected as long as the warrior is. We have to choose.

Thousands have refused to deploy or refused to fight in our current wars, gone AWOL, or hidden out rather than harassing the occupied populations for a day. They have no medals, no ribbons, no holiday, and never enough support or gratitude. They should be honored. We should appreciate Veterans For Peace because they are for peace, not because they are veterans.

Frederick Douglas taught himself to read in Baltimore, a far more significant event than a flag surviving a barrage of cannon balls. But the StarSpangledBaltimore.com website tells us: "The War of 1812 represents what many see as the definitive end of the American Revolution. A new nation, widely regarded as an upstart, successfully defended itself against the largest, most powerful navy in the world during the maritime assault on Baltimore and Maryland. America's victory over Great Britain confirmed the legitimacy of the Revolution." Wow. That sounds significant, even noble.

In reality, the U.S. government chose to launch the War of 1812 three decades after the revolution had ended. Many nations have won their independence without war. War leaves behind bitter hatred and resentment of the sort now raging in Libya, albeit out of the news. Prior to the War of 1812, the United States had built up a navy to go and fight in what we now call Libya, introducing suicide bombing by sailing a ship into port there and blowing it up. The United States wanted to trade with the world. The British objected, captured U.S. ships, and forced the men on board to sail for Britain. That offense, combined with war fever lingering from a generation back, became grounds for war. But there were other reasons, including the drive to take more land from Native Americans, to conquer Florida, and to add Canada to the fledgling U.S. empire.

Congressman Samuel Taggart said, "The conquest of Canada has been represented to be so easy as to be little more than a party of pleasure. We have, it has been said, nothing to do but to march an army into the country and display the standard of the United States, and the Canadians will immediately flock to it and place themselves under our protection. They have been represented as ripe for revolt, panting for emancipation from a tyrannical Government, and longing to enjoy the sweets of liberty under the fostering hand of the United States." Taggart went on to present reasons why such a result was by no means to be expected, and of course he was right. But being right is of little value when war fever takes hold.

The expectation that people will appreciate being occupied, whether a pretense or sincere and truly stupid, didn't work out in Iraq, and didn't work out two centuries ago in Canada. The Soviets went into Afghanistan in 1979 with the same stupid expectation of being welcomed as friends, and the United States has been repeating the same mistake there since 2001. Of course, such expectations would never work out for a foreign army in the United States either, no matter how admirable the people invading us might be or how miserable they might find us.

What if Canada and Iraq had indeed welcomed U.S. occupations? Would that have produced anything to outweigh the horror of the wars? Norman Thomas speculated as follows:

"[S]uppose the United States in the War of 1812 had succeeded in its very blundering attempt to conquer all or part of Canada. Unquestionably we should have school histories to teach us how fortunate was the result of that war for the people of Ontario and how valuable a lesson it finally taught the British about the need for enlightened rule! Yet, to-day the Canadians who remain within the British Empire would say they have more real liberty than their neighbors to the south of the border!"

The War of 1812 would seem to have undone the legitimacy of the Revolution rather than confirming it. In 1812, the choice of war resulted in the burning of our national capital, the death in action of some 3,800 U.S. and British fighters, and the death of 20,000 U.S. and British from all causes, including disease. About 76 were killed in the Battle of Baltimore, plus another 450 wounded. Nowadays an incident in Baltimore that resulted in that kind of carnage would be described with words other than "glorious," and "successful." Peace was made by negotiation after the War of 1812, just as it could have been made prior to the killing.

Is saying so an insult to the troops whose cause the war was? Well, 12.7% of U.S. troops deserted during the War of 1812, facing the serious risk of torture, mutilation, or execution. Does that sound like an army that had chosen that war? Many soldiers believed they served their state, not a nation, and not an empire. Many refused to invade Canada. The Governor of Vermont called his state's militia home, during the war, to serve his state. Now there's an action worth celebrating! There's a lesson to be learned. Our states' militias have been nationalized, making it much easier to use them abroad. In fact, each state's national guard has been paired up with a foreign nation's military as a means of spreading imperial influence. Maryland is matched up with Bosnia-Herzegovina. This murder-exchange program began as a quiet way of spreading U.S. militarism east toward Russia, but now it's throughout Africa and the rest of the world.

The U.S. military is never disbanded anymore. The wars are never fought here anymore, unless you count drone pilots. The wars kill mostly civilians and almost entirely non-Americans. The preparation for wars and stationing of armed forces around the globe costs far more money and effort than the wars themselves. Taxes never go away in between wars anymore. We don't get our civil liberties back anymore. Much of the military is privatized. A lot has changed. But some things have not changed. More than ever we require lies before we'll tolerate war. Even though many of the lies must now depict the wars as philanthropic, we would still never get wars off the ground without racism, bigotry, and genocidal emotions -- or without waving flags.

Prior to 2001, the Taliban was willing to turn Osama bin Laden over to a third country if he was promised a fair trial and no death penalty, and if some evidence of his guilt of crimes were offered. In 2001, the Taliban warned the United States that bin Laden was planning an attack on American soil. In July 2001 the United States was known to have plans to take military action against the Taliban by mid-October.

When the United States attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the Taliban again offered to negotiate for the handing over of bin Laden. When President George W. Bush refused, the Taliban dropped its demand for evidence of guilt and offered simply to turn bin Laden over to a third country. Bush rejected this offer and continued bombing. At a March 13, 2002, press conference, Bush said of bin Laden "I truly am not that concerned about him." When President Barack Obama announced, in May 2011, that he had killed bin Laden, the war didn't even slow down.

Bin Laden, as a justification for the longest war in U.S. history, had always had weaknesses. As with Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gadaffi or Manuel Noriega, past U.S. support for bin Laden had to be kept out of the discussion. And a crime had to be transformed into an act of war. A crime by a non-state group was used to implicate the nation of Afghanistan, even though 92% of Afghans not only didn't support the crime of 9-11, but they have to this day never heard about it.

If bin Laden was not the reason for over a decade of war in Afghanistan, perhaps al Qaeda more generally was the cause. When President Obama continued the war in 2009 and tripled the number of U.S. troops in it, he and his subordinates argued that if the Taliban had power it would work with al Qaeda, and that would allow al Qaeda to endanger the United States. Some of the same officials who made this claim, including Richard Holbrooke, at other times admitted that al Qaeda had virtually no presence in Afghanistan, that the Taliban was not likely to work with al Qaeda, and that al Qaeda could easily plan attacks on the United States in a dozen nations other than Afghanistan.

From 2001 to 2007, there was a sevenfold increase in fatal jihadist attacks around the world, a predictable if tragic result of the Global War on Terror. The U.S. State Department responded to this dangerous escalation in terrorism by discontinuing its annual report on terrorism.

If bin Laden and al Qaeda and terrorism were not the reasons for the war, maybe the war was intended to spread democracy. But the United States has claimed to be building nations in dozens of places and never succeeded yet. The Afghan government propped up by the U.S. occupation supports wife-beating and barely even pretends to hold legitimate elections. It is extremely difficult to bring people rights and freedoms while bombing them and kicking in their doors at night. While U.S. media only mentions U.S. deaths and suffering, never showing images of the suffering of Afghans in this war, the pretense that the war is for the benefit of Afghans is thin. Nearly 2,000 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan, as compared to approximately 30,000 Afghan men, women, and children. The United States doesn't even count the number of people it kills, a seemingly necessary step if we actually wanted to calculate whether we are bestowing more benefit than harm. In fact, a strong majority of the people of the United States wants the war ended, as does a majority of Afghans. But racial and religious bigotry allow many in the United States to hold the self-deceptive belief that Afghans can gain from a war they oppose, since they just don't know any better. In fact, many Americans blindly accept that the U.S. government or president knows best even if their policies appear to us to be the most extreme folly. And vastly more Americans tolerate a system of misrepresentative government in which majority opinion has no say.

If the war is based on lies and making us less safe, at least we can take comfort in the fact that it is succeeding. Or can we? In April 2012, echoing numerous other reports, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis concluded that all claims of success and progress have been dishonest: "Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth," he wrote, "when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable."

As the U.S. public has turned against the war, many members of Congress have depicted themselves as opponents and critics of the war, while still in many cases continuing to vote for its funding. A Congressional report in 2010 documented payoffs made by the U.S. to the Taliban for the safe passage of goods through Afghanistan, payoffs that amounted to either the first or second largest source of income for the Taliban, the other being opium. Afghans, including those fighting for the Taliban, often signed up for training and pay from the United States and then departed, sometimes repeating the process a number of times. The United States has been funding, training, and arming both sides of the war.

Yesterday the House refused to hold a vote on ending the war in 2014 because it might have passed, but held a vote on ending the war now which garnered only 113 votes -- 24 of which came from members who turned around and voted for the underlying bill even though it was going to pass easily, a bill that kept in place the power to imprison indefinitely without charge, sabotaged nuclear disarmament steps, put a so-called missile defense base on the east coast of the United States, and required the positioning of planes, bombs, ships, and munitions in the Straight of Hormuz. On the plus side, this week a federal judge named Katherine Forrest found the decency to block the indefinite detention powers. "During times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act," said Orwell. Give Katherine Forrest some revolutionary credit.

Every week or two there has been an atrocity story in the media from Afghanistan. A pattern has developed of the U.S. military passing the buck to NATO, NATO denying everything, NATO revising its lies as new evidence emerges, and NATO finally admitting the crime, with the blame going to a few rogue "bad apples." But you cannot have a war without atrocities, and the atrocities are the least of it. The urination on corpses is not as serious a crime as the creation of the corpses in the first place.

Myths about how a recent escalation in Iraq had turned a bad war into a good and successful war were applied by Obama to the completely different context of Afghanistan, in combination with familiar rhetoric about supporting troops, as if the war were for their benefit, and as if they had volunteered to be in it, even though they were being endlessly redeployed to a war that had nothing to do with the responsibilities they had signed up for and sworn an oath to, and even though their top cause of death was suicide. Sending more troops into war so that previous troops should not have killed themselves in vain is a hopeless endeavor. Escalating hopeless wars, supposedly in order to end them, actually serves only two purposes: it allows a president to appear more militaristic, and it enriches war profiteers.

"We did not choose this war," said Obama on May 1st, as if the crime of 9-11 had been continually compelling him to fight a war in Afghanistan year after year. But the war was not defensive. Afghanistan was not attacking the United States. The war was not authorized by the United Nations. And it was not declared by Congress, as no war has been since 1941. When Russia began talking about a preemptive strike against U.S. missile bases on Russia's western border this month, there was nothing the United States could say against the justifiability of such an act. Not after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and the threats being made toward Iran.

The tissue of lies surrounding the war on Afghanistan is typical. Last year's bombing of Libya (also led, accompanied, and followed by lies) was intense and sustained, but U.S. drones are also being used to kill in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. They are used to kill individuals, including U.S. citizens, including children, including both identified individuals and people targeted because of a pattern of behavior that is deemed suspicious, and of course including many people who simply happen to be too close to an intended or accidental target. If drone strikes are law enforcement, the president or his designate is judge, jury, and executioner. The U.S. Congress and public are left in the dark. The nation where the strike is made is violated. If drone strikes are war, they are war with one army safely ensconced thousands of miles from the battlefield, and the other army blindfolded and handcuffed on the battlefield with their wives and children and grandparents along.

Rightwing columnist Charles Krauthammer opposes the use of drones within the United States, saying, "I don't want regulations, I don't want restrictions, I want a ban on this. Drones are instruments of war. The Founders had a great aversion to any instruments of war, the use of the military inside even the United States. It didn't like standing armies, it has all kinds of statutes of using the army in the country. A drone is a high-tech version of an old army and a musket. It ought to be used in Somalia to hunt bad guys but not in America. I don't want to see it hovering over anybody's home."

Because of course there are no homes in Somalia. There are no anybodies in Somalia. There are only things you hunt in Somalia. Only 5% of humanity is humanity, and instruments of war are perfectly fine as a way to handle the other 95%.

War is not politics by other means. War is racism by other means.

We learned last week some details of another U.S. military official teaching the genocide of Muslims at an institution of supposedly higher learning in Virginia. In this case Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley had been teaching his students at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk to use the lessons of Hiroshima to wipe out whole cities at once in an effort to eliminate Muslims. These scandals are too common to be dismissed. Our public discourse is full of words like Muslim extremists, Islamofascists, terrorists -- words that demonize, dehumanize, and disguise. Illegal Alien. Underclass. Stakeholders. Defense Department. Humanitarian Intervention. Homeland. Targeted Strike. Collateral Damage. Evildoers. Status of Forces Agreement. Iranian Threat. We've now put people in prison in some cases (such as Tarek Mehanna), and murdered them in others (such as Tariq Ali), for less that what Dooley has done, but those people were Muslim. Official policy is not unconnected from common prejudice.

What are we so afraid of?

Bombing Libya was never popular. Liberal backers of humanitarian bombing hold it up as a model, but for many years to come the war that keeps war spending and war waging acceptable in the greatest number of minds will continue to be World War II.

This is quite a paradox, because World War II was among the worst events the earth has witnessed. It killed 60 or 70 million people. It's hard to imagine an alternative that would have been worse.

The killing of 6 million Jews? For a decade leading up to the war, the United States and other western nations refused to accept Jewish refugees from Germany or to allow Germany to send them to Africa. Only peace could have stopped the killing once begun, whereas the war fueled it. World War II only became about saving the Jews in retrospect.

The takeover of the world by Nazism? The West had armed and funded the Nazis' rise, doing nothing to build civil resistance within Germany. But resistance within Germany would have eventually overthrown Hitler. A German war on the Soviet Union was almost certainly doomed, with or without the Western front. And exactly which part of Nazism was held off by slaughtering tens of millions on both sides? The United States had Japanese Americans, not to mention Native Americans, in camps, African Americans under apartheid and used for medical experiments and sterilizations, a military industrial complex put in charge of our government, Nazi scientists imported to the United States to help develop weapons of mass destruction and torture. The United States now embraces preemptive wars, targeted killings, and the militarization of the police. Nazism didn't win, but it may be an oversimplification to say that Nazism lost.

Roosevelt lied repeatedly about German attacks on allegedly innocent U.S. ships, just as Wilson had done before him. Roosevelt lied about forged Nazi documents. But the U.S. public remained opposed to war until Pearl Harbor. The United States had left Napoleon and other war-crazed conquerors to their fate in Europe up until World War I's Wilsonian propaganda campaign and crackdown on civil liberties. It would have done so again without Pearl Harbor.

By December 7, 1941, Roosevelt had already instituted the draft, activated the National Guard, created a huge Navy in two oceans, traded old destroyers to England in exchange for the lease of its bases in the Caribbean and Bermuda, and — just 11 days before the supposedly unexpected attack — he had secretly ordered the creation of a list of every Japanese and Japanese-American person in the United States.

Wars, as opposed to occupations, are not defensive. Nor are they waged defensively. Wars between militarized nations cannot be begun by one party alone. It takes two to tango. Such wars have ended now. World War II was the last one. We don't bomb white families anymore. Wealthy nations don't go to war with each other anymore. They meet at Camp David or in Chicago to plot the exploitation of the poor nations of the world. Although, on Thursday the prime minister of Russia, the borders of whose nation NATO is building bases on, said the result could be all-out nuclear war.

But there was something positive about how World War II ended. Although it was very one-sided, there was justice. For the first time ever, people were put on trial for the crime of making war. The United Nations was established. The Geneva Conventions were put in place. The United States claimed to be on the side of international law.

Now, one objection is that the United States has really been on the side of international law for everyone else. In recent years the pretense of anything more than that has become completely implausible to most observers, and U.S. backing for torture, assassination, and aggressive military strikes is influencing the world in the direction of anarchy rather than order.

Another objection is that we had the story wrong to begin with. War was only prosecuted as a crime after World War II because of the Kellogg Briand Pact which had banned war in 1928. Only, the Kellogg-Briand Pact had very intentionally banned all war, not merely aggressive war, which was the charge employed against the Nazis and Japanese. All war was illegal when the U.N. Charter was created opening up two loopholes for wars. Under the U.N. Charter war is legal if defensive or U.N. authorized. What's not to love, for a nation positioned both to dominate the U.N. and to portray anything it chooses as an act of defense? The Geneva Conventions further legitimized war by detailing how it could be properly waged. Abolishing war ceases to be necessary, if regulated civilized wars are the new order of the day. And another institution was created to ensure more war-making, a little club called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. Not to mention the war-making secret agency so misleadingly called Central Intelligence.

But what was the Kellogg-Briand Pact? Where did it come from? Raise your hand if you know who Salmon Oliver Levinson was. This is the topic of my book "When the World Outlawed War," whereas the lies used in the service of war are the topic of "War Is A Lie," and the machinery they've produced and what it's doing to us is the subject of "The Military Industrial Complex at 50."

Levinson was a lawyer in Chicago who decided that war should be illegal. It should be stigmatized. It should not have the approval and sanction of the law. Instead international laws should be developed in writing, and disputes should be settled in court. There was a trend that could be followed. Slavery had been done away with, as had torture, blood feuds, and duelling. And not only aggressive duelling was outlawed, but defensive duelling as well. Violence was banned as a means of settling individual disputes. The same could be done with disputes between nations, Levinson believed.

In fact, such trends have continued. Violence is down across our culture and the world, in our treatment of children, pets, farm animals, wild animals, spouses, and rivals, in our entertainment, and in our foreign relations. War kills a smaller percentage of humanity now than ever. It is less acceptable. Truman told the Senate to help the Soviets or the Nazis, whichever side was losing, so that more people would die. Obama, in contrast, must sell his wars as life-saving. On the other hand, our weapons have advanced to apocalyptic levels, environmental destruction and economic injustice end lives whether or not we call them violent, and the United States has become a war economy with presidents given the powers of kings. Which trends will win out is up to us.

Levinson and his friends in Chicago -- Jane Addams among them -- launched a movement to outlaw war, a movement for Outlawry. It united a peace movement that was split between isolationism and involvement. It was, however, a peace movement the likes of which we haven't seen since. The peace movement of the 1920s sought to eliminate war, not reform it. Robber barons provided the funding. The Carnegie Endowment for Peace was still loyal to the mission Carnegie gave it of eliminating war. That institution still exists, but it openly forswears the mission for which it was created and works on other things. Similarly, Nobel prizes still sometimes went, as required by Nobel's will, to those working to abolish standing armies. Women's groups, many of them having sold out during World War I, pushed hard for the abolition of war in the 20s. So did the National League of Women Voters, the Young Women's Christian Association, the National Association of Parents and Teachers, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and the American Legion. These groups, which would never back the outlawing of war today, did so in the past and succeeded. The U.S. State Department's website lists the Kellogg-Briand Pact as in force with 67 nations committed to it, including the United States and Iran.

It was easier to oppose war when it wasn't the main business of the U.S. government. Farmers wanted Europeans to buy fewer weapons and more grain. Imagine trying to persuade the State Department to that position today! But the Peace Pact happened because of a great deal of work by dedicated activists willing to sacrifice for a multi-generational project aimed at eliminating an instrument of public policy older than the United States itself. They built an uncomfortably large coalition, combining Europhiles and advocates for legal alcohol with isolationists and prohibitionists. They avoided tying their movement to an elected official or a party. They focused on education and organizing. They focused on the moral case against war as mass murder. They lobbied the Senate endlessly to guarantee ratification.

We still have wars, of course. But we also have murder and theft and coveting, and yet we manage to remember Moses as having started something useful. The vision that the Outlawrists had has never yet been fully implemented. That's our job. Coming out of the experience of World War I, the Outlawrists opposed alliances that would use war to punish war. They would have opposed the idea of NATO, even as originally conceived, with everything they had.

NATO used to claim a defensive purpose, but that purpose was to make war in defense of its members. NATO has militarized the nations of Europe against the will of their people. NATO maintains hundreds of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear European nations, in blatant violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. NATO threatens Russia with missile base construction on its borders, wasting billions provoking a war with so-called missile defense systems that do not work and are designed as part of an aggressive attack.

NATO does not bomb all nations abusing human rights; nor does NATO's bombing alleviate human suffering. The pro-Western oil dictators in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are not targets. In fact, they were special guests of the Queen of England yesterday along with the dictators from Abu Dhabi, Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, and Swaziland. Former dictators Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt were not targets. NATO's real motivations include a desire to control the global flow of oil, to support dictators who've supported U.S./NATO wars and prisons and torture operations, to back Israel's expansionist agenda, and to surround and threaten the nation of Iran.

But the problem is deeper. The Nation magazine editorialized this week: "In theory, a NATO that pooled Europe's and America's political and military resources and acted only on UN Security Council authorization could be a useful part of the world's security architecture." No it could not. Security architecture is something we used to call standing armies. Murder has not become more acceptable. Mass murder by undemocratic institutions unaccountable to us has not become more acceptable. Obama's new Atrocity Prevention Board has in mind one tool for preventing atrocities, and that tool is atrocities. On Thursday night at a debate in Chicago the moderator announced that NATO is an anti-violence organization. The Outlawrists sought precisely to outgrow the idea that anti-violence organizations would employ violence.

France was a partner with the United States in creating the Kellogg-Briand Pact. France has now joined Canada and Australia in announcing a withdrawal from Afghanistan, backing off however to now claim it will leave only the non-combat combatants. We should celebrate even that incomplete withdrawal tomorrow. We should also celebrate that day, August 27, 1928, in Paris when the nations of the world said they'd never fight again. We need peace holidays as well as war ones. We need Mothers Day, MLK Day, and the International Day of Peace. We should have a Kellogg-Briand Day too.

The majority of Americans want the wars ended and the military spending cut. And the more they learn, the more they agree. The message of peace is one that you can expect people to agree with even if they don't at first. The surveys done by Steven Kull and others establish this expectation. So, never believe your television. Never doubt the popular demand for peace. Never stop spreading the word. Never accept that mass murder has been civilized. Know your own strength.

"And these words shall then become," wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley,

"Like Oppression's thundered doom

"Ringing through each heart and brain,

"Heard again - again - again -

"Rise like Lions after slumber

"In unvanquishable number -

"Shake your chains to earth like dew

"Which in sleep had fallen on you -

"Ye are many - they are few."

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

David Swanson

David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."


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