Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Japan artist battles museum over works mocking government

July 29, 2015

Japan artist battles museum over works mocking governmentVisitors look at the works by Makoto Aida, one of Japan’s best-known and controversial artists, as part of an art exhibition for children at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo on July 28, 2015AFP

Tokyo (AFP) —

One of Japan’s best-known contemporary artists is locked in a fight with a public museum over claims it has threatened to pull the plug on works critical of the conservative government.

Makoto Aida said the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo told him to yank the pieces from an exhibit that started last week because they were “not suitable” for kids, but the museum countered that it just asked him to “modify” his creations.

“I was told that the works were not appropriate and that they wanted me to remove them,” the artist told AFP at the museum this week.

He added that the demand followed a complaint from a visitor and at the request of the Tokyo city government.

One piece, a video installation, appears to mock nationalist premier Shinzo Abe, whose popularity has dived as parliament debates controversial legislation aimed at expanding the scope of Japan’s military, which is currently limited to a narrowly defensive role.

The legislation, which Abe says is necessary to counter rising regional tensions, is controversial in pacifist Japan and has sparked rare protests.

Aida’s video depicts the artist pretending to be Abe making a speech in broken English, while a large calligraphy mildly mocking the education ministry hangs nearby.

Aida said the calligraphy work was meant to be humorous “not political”.

The video—which says he is playing the role of “a man calling himself Japan’s Prime Minister”—offers a “sincere apology” to people in China, Korea and other Asian countries that suffered from Japan’s imperial expansion in the first half of the 20th Century.

Abe has been accused by some of taking a revisionist view on Japan’s warring past, framing the country as more victim than aggressor.

“We began imitating other powerful countries, we colonised those weaker nations surrounding us, and we began wars of aggression,” the artist says in the video transcript.

“There were a great many people whom we insulted, and we wounded – and we killed… I am sorry!!!!”

A museum spokeswoman said Aida was asked to “modify” his works for the child-focused exhibit, without elaborating.

“We asked him if he could make them more approachable to children,” she said.

© 2015 AFP

Seeking War to the End of the World

July 27, 2015

Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan. (photo: YouTube)
Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan. (photo: YouTube)

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

26 July 15

 

Despite the disastrous Iraq War, neocons still dominate Official Washington’s inside-outside game, government policymakers coordinating with think-tank opinion leaders to keep world tensions high and money flowing to military projects, a process personified by Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland, says Robert Parry.

f the neoconservatives have their way again, U.S. ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the U.S. military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the U.S. Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.

Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east, and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.

Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year’s coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.

Kagan, who cut his teeth as a propaganda specialist in support of the Reagan administration’s brutal Central American policies in the 1980s, is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s neocon-dominated opinion pages.

On Friday, Kagan’s column baited the Republican Party to do more than just object to President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Kagan called for an all-out commitment to neoconservative goals, including military escalations in the Middle East, belligerence toward Russia and casting aside fiscal discipline in favor of funneling tens of billions of new dollars to the Pentagon.

Kagan also showed how the neocons’ world view remains the conventional wisdom of Official Washington despite their disastrous Iraq War. The neocon narrative gets repeated over and over in the mainstream media no matter how delusional it is.

For instance, a sane person might trace the origins of the bloodthirsty Islamic State back to President George W. Bush’s neocon-inspired Iraq War when this hyper-violent Sunni movement began as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” blowing up Shiite mosques and instigating sectarian bloodshed. It later expanded into Syria where Sunni militants were seeking the ouster of a secular regime led by Alawites, a Shiite offshoot. Though changing its name to the Islamic State, the movement continued with its trademark brutality.

But Kagan doesn’t acknowledge that he and his fellow neocons bear any responsibility for this head-chopping phenomenon. In his neocon narrative, the Islamic State gets blamed on Iran and Syria, even though those governments are leading much of the resistance to the Islamic State and its former colleagues in Al Qaeda, which in Syria backs a separate terrorist organization, the Nusra Front.

But here is how Kagan explains the situation to the Smart People of Official Washington: “Critics of the recent nuclear deal struck between Iran and the United States are entirely right to point out the serious challenge that will now be posed by the Islamic republic. It is an aspiring hegemon in an important region of the world.

“It is deeply engaged in a region-wide war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf States and the Palestinian territories. It subsidizes the murderous but collapsing regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and therefore bears primary responsibility for the growing strength of the Islamic State and other radical jihadist forces in that country and in neighboring Iraq, where it is simultaneously expanding its influence and inflaming sectarian violence.”

The Real Hegemon

While ranting about “Iranian hegemony,” Kagan called for direct military intervention by the world’s true hegemonic power, the United States. He wants the U.S. military to weigh in against Iran on the side of two far more militarily advanced regional powers, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose combined weapons spending dwarfs Iran’s and includes – with Israel – a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.

Yet reality has never had much relationship to neocon ideology. Kagan continued: “Any serious strategy aimed at resisting Iranian hegemony has also required confronting Iran on the several fronts of the Middle East battlefield. In Syria, it has required a determined policy to remove Assad by force, using U.S. air power to provide cover for civilians and create a safe zone for Syrians willing to fight.

“In Iraq, it has required using American forces to push back and destroy the forces of the Islamic State so that we would not have to rely, de facto, on Iranian power to do the job. Overall, it has required a greater U.S. military commitment to the region, a reversal of both the perceived and the real withdrawal of American power.

“And therefore it has required a reversal of the downward trend in U.S. defense spending, especially the undoing of the sequestration of defense funds, which has made it harder for the military even to think about addressing these challenges, should it be called upon to do so. So the question for Republicans who are rightly warning of the danger posed by Iran is: What have they done to make it possible for the United States to begin to have any strategy for responding?”

In Kagan’s call for war and more war, we’re seeing, again, the consequence of failing to hold neocons accountable after they pushed the country into the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War by selling lies about weapons of mass destruction and telling tales about how easy it would be.

Instead of facing a purge that should have followed the Iraq calamity, the neocons consolidated their power, holding onto key jobs in U.S. foreign policy, ensconcing themselves in influential think tanks, and remaining the go-to experts for mainstream media coverage. Being wrong about Iraq has almost become a badge of honor in the upside-down world of Official Washington.

But we need to unpack the truckload of sophistry that Kagan is peddling. First, it is simply crazy to talk about “Iranian hegemony.” That was part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rhetoric before the U.S. Congress on March 3 about Iran “gobbling up” nations – and it has now become a neocon-driven litany, but it is no more real just because it gets repeated endlessly.

For instance, take the Iraq case. It has a Shiite-led government not because Iran invaded Iraq, but because the United States did. After the U.S. military ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, the United States stood up a new government dominated by Shiites who, in turn, sought friendly relations with their co-religionists in Iran, which is entirely understandable and represents no aggression by Iran. Then, after the Islamic State’s dramatic military gains across Iraq last summer, the Iraqi government turned to Iran for military assistance, also no surprise.

Back to Iraq

However, leaving aside Kagan’s delusional hyperbole about Iran, look at what he’s proposing. He wants to return a sizable U.S. occupation force to Iraq, apparently caring little about the U.S. soldiers who were rotated multiple times into the war zone where almost 4,500 died (along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). Having promoted Iraq War I and having paid no price, Kagan now wants to give us Iraq War II.

But that’s not enough. Kagan wants the U.S. military to intervene to make sure the secular government of Syria is overthrown, even though the almost certain winners would be Sunni extremists from the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Such a victory could lead to genocides against Syria’s Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities. At that point, there would be tremendous pressure for a full-scale U.S. invasion and occupation of Syria, too.

That may be why Kagan wants to throw tens of billions of dollar more into the military-industrial complex, although the true price tag for Kagan’s new wars would likely run into the trillions of dollars. Yet, Kagan still isn’t satisfied. He wants even more military spending to confront “growing Chinese power, an aggressive Russia and an increasingly hegemonic Iran.”

In his conclusion, Kagan mocks the Republicans for not backing up their tough talk: “So, yes, by all means, rail about the [Iran] deal. We all look forward to the hours of floor speeches and campaign speeches that lie ahead. But it will be hard to take Republican criticisms seriously unless they start doing the things that are in their power to do to begin to address the challenge.”

While it’s true that Kagan is now “just” a neocon ideologue – albeit one with important platforms to present his views – his wife Assistant Secretary of State Nuland shares his foreign policy views and even edits many of his articles. As she told The New York Times last year, “nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]

But Nuland is a foreign policy force of her own, considered by some in Washington to be the up-and-coming “star” at the State Department. By organizing the “regime change” in Ukraine – with the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 – Nuland also earned her spurs as an accomplished neocon.

Nuland has even outdone her husband, who may get “credit” for the Iraq War and the resulting chaos, but Nuland did him one better, instigating Cold War II and reviving hostilities between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. After all, that’s where the really big money will go – toward modernizing nuclear arsenals and ordering top-of-the-line strategic weaponry.

A Family Business

There’s also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.

For instance, Robert’s brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

According to ISW’s annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.

Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded U.S. forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]

So, to understand the enduring influence of the neocons – and the Kagan clan, in particular – you have to appreciate the money connections between the business of war and the business of selling war. When the military contractors do well, the think tanks that advocate for heightened global tensions do well, too.

And, it doesn’t hurt to have friends and family inside the government making sure that policymakers do their part to give war a chance — and to give peace the old heave-ho.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”]


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

 

Academics call on Japan to face up to its history

May 8, 2015

Academics call on Japan to face up to its historyMen in Imperial Army uniforms take part in a ceremony at the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, where 14 of Japan’s top war criminals from WWII are buriedAFP

TOKYO —

A group of nearly 200 academics, including Pulitzer Prize winners, has published an open letter calling on the nation to face up to its World War II crimes, including its system of sex slavery.

The letter, penned by scholars from top institutions including Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics, comes as disquiet grows over what critics say is the tendency of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to whitewash the past.

“This year presents an opportunity for the government of Japan to show leadership by addressing Japan’s history of colonial rule and wartime aggression in both words and action,” the letter says.

The missive, which was published on the Internet and is not addressed to anyone in particular, says Japan has achieved great things in the 70 years since its surrender.

But it says an apparent refusal by some on the right to fully accept Tokyo’s guilt, risked undermining that stance.

The scholars argue that even by the standards of wartime sexual violence and military prostitution in the last century, Japan’s so-called comfort women system “was distinguished by its large scale and systematic management under the military”.

It also noted the system’s “exploitation of young, poor, and vulnerable women in areas colonized or occupied by Japan.”

Mainstream historians say around 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from other Asian nations, were systematically raped by Japan’s imperial forces in military brothels.

Japanese conservatives, however, say no official documents prove government involvement in the system; they say the women were common prostitutes engaged in a commercial exchange.

They have also argued that memories of the survivors cannot be trusted and are highly politicised in an issue that serves as one of the main geopolitical fault lines running through East Asia.

Signatories of the letter include John W. Dower, professor emeritus of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose book “Embracing Defeat” masterfully tells the story of Japan’s rise from the ashes of WWII.

They also include Herbert Bix, professor emeritus of history and sociology at Binghamton University and author of the acclaimed biography “Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan”, which examined the life and influence of the wartime emperor.

Both works won Pulitzer Prizes and are required reading for any student of Japan.

The letter comes as Abe readies a formal statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of hostilities. All eyes are on whether he will repeat previous explicit prime ministerial apologies for Japanese violence.

© 2015 AFP

 

Decline and Fall of the United States

April 22, 2015

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I just went to New York and back in a day to tape the premier episode of a new Sunday political talk show that will begin airing in some weeks on Al Jazeera. It was a debate on war, and I took the abolish-it position. So, look forward to an alternative to the normal Sunday political viewing. Here’s something I wrote prior to the taping:

The Decline and Fall of the United States

Here’s text and video from my recent event in Baltimore:

And the Slow Parade of Fears

And text and video from my recent event in Detroit (in two parts):

War: It’s Human Nature only if Collective Suicide is Natural

Peace: More Normal and Wonderful Than We Think

More recent work:

David Swanson Discusses Wikileaks Sony/State Department Claims on RT International

Getting the Cure Right for a Sick Democracy

I Just Asked Erik Prince To Stop Bribing Politicians

Blackwater Employees to Prison Today, Their Boss Honored Guest at UVA Wednesday

Talk Nation Radio: Karen Dolan on the Criminalization of Poverty

Talk Nation Radio: Sheila Carapico: Stop the Saudi (and U.S.) War on Yemen

Drone Victims Take Germany to Court for Abetting U.S. Murders

Oh Hell, Hillary

To End Government Spying, Stop Buying Stuff

Locals Protest, Sabotage U.S. Navy Base Construction in Desert in Sicily

The Video That Could Indict the Pentagon for Murder

Talk Nation Radio: NYU Students on Hiring a War Criminal to Teach Human Rights Law

Lower Drinking Age, Raise Killing Age

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Bernie Sanders Calls for ‘War Tax’ on Millionaires

March 23, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)

By Rebecca Shabad, The Hill

21 March 15

 

en. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is planning to offer an amendment to the GOP budget next week that would impose a new tax on millionaires to finance U.S. military operations.

The “war tax” will be one of the first Sanders will introduce during the vote-a-rama next week. During the back-to-back votes, senators are allowed to submit an unlimited amount of amendments.

“The Republicans took us into protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and ran up our national debt by trillions because they chose not to pay for those wars. Instead, they put the cost of those wars on our national credit card,” Sanders said in a statement Friday.

Sanders, a potential 2016 presidential contender, is ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee.

He’s upset with a provision Senate Republicans added to their blueprint Thursday that would increase defense spending next year by pumping up the Pentagon’s war funding account to $96 billion.

The overseas contingency operations (OCO) account has funded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now pays for operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Republicans are depending on OCO, which falls outside the Defense Department’s base budget, to increase military spending. The budget would keep sequestration budget caps in place next year for the Pentagon’s base budget.

Sanders slammed the proposal from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), which matches what House Republicans are seeking in their separate budget resolution. Sanders called their use of OCO a “gimmick.”

The extra OCO funding would only be offset in the out years, beyond the 10-year budget window.

“Wars are enormously expensive, not only in terms of human life and suffering, but in terms of the budget. If the Republicans want another war in the Mideast, they are going to have to tell the American people how much it will cost them and how it will be paid for,” he said.

“I strongly expect that there will be amendments demanding that Republicans tell us how they will pay for another war.”

Both chambers are planning to hold floor votes on their separate blueprints by the end of next week.

 

A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

March 9, 2015
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World Beyond War has just published a short book titled A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.

This act constitutes an intervention into the debate over whether to create a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force. In fact, this document should help stimulate a debate over whether to continue with the war approach to global conflicts, authorized or not.

It has become routine to acknowledge that “there is no military solution” even while pursuing military actions as preferable to doing nothing. A Global Security System builds a case for alternative actions, both in a moment of crisis, and on the long-term path toward preventing conflict and developing nonviolent means of resolving conflict.

This book describes the “hardware” of creating a peace system, and the “software” — the values and concepts — necessary to operate a peace system, and the means to spread these globally. This report is based on the work of many experts in international relations and peace studies and on the experience of many activists. A quotation from the first section reads:

“In On Violence, Hannah Arendt wrote that the reason warfare is still with us is not a death wish of our species nor some instinct of aggression, ‘. . . but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.’ The Alternative Global Security System we describe here is the substitute. The goal of this document is to gather into one place, in the briefest form possible, everything one needs to know to work toward an end to war by replacing it with an Alternative Global Security System in contrast to the failed system of national security.”

The book is available free online at WorldBeyondWar.org, including the Executive Summary and full Table of Contents. Here is the full PDF version. The paperback is available at your local bookstore or any online bookseller. The distributor is Ingram. The ISBN is 978-0983083085. Buy online at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. The audio book can be purchased here. The eBook editions (978-1495147159) are coming soon.

Comments can be posted under each section of the book on the WorldBeyondWar.org website. Some of the top experts in various fields will be engaging in conversation in these comment sections. Each book section is posted along with graphics, an audio version, and related actions that can be taken.Check it out!

A teach-in on this topic is planned for 5:00-6:30 p.m. March 20, 2015, at University of the District of Columbia Law School at 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC, as part of four days of events planned by Spring Rising. Speaking will be David Swanson, author and director of World Beyond War; Matthew Hoh, a former State Department official who resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan; and Robert Fantina, author and journalist whose most recent book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy.

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

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The Key That Is the Saudi Kingdom

February 6, 2015

Note from David Swanson: My work is largely supported by individuals who appreciate it. I can only maintain the DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org websites and produce the TalkNationRadioradio show with your help. I can only report on, write about, and speak and act on behalf of peace and justice if people make it possible for me to pay my bills. When you become a supporter by signing up to donate $5 or more a month, I’ll send you a free signed book of your choice, or any shirt, mug, or other item from my store of your choosing. And whenever I publish a new book, I’ll send you a copy the day it’s published. You also have the option of having your name or organization listed or linked to on my sites. Be sure to let me know what you’d like by emailing me. DONATE HERE.

Enjoy:

The Key That Is the Saudi Kingdom

Addiction Is Not Addictive

It’s the Blind Partisanship

Could the CIA have given Iraq info on making a nuclear bomb?

Born at War

Talk Nation Radio: Raed Jarrar: Obama’s budget spends 58% of discretionary spending on military

Talk Nation Radio: Joseph Hickman on Deadly Human Experimentation at Guantanamo Bay

Head of Blackwater Coming to Town on Tax Day to Hype the Good of Hiring Mercenaries

When Veterans Try to End Wars

Exporting Sherman’s March

Reports from Cuba coming soon!

Events:

February 7 in Munich: No Peace With NATO

February 13-14 in London: Four Years of Repression in Bahrain

February 21 in Maryland: The Real Story Behind ISIS

February 21 in Charlottesville VA: Lee Camp and David Swanson

February 28 – March 1 in New York, NY: Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction

March 2nd – major blockade of nuclear bomb factory of AWE Burghfield, England

March 4-6 – Shut Down Creech (also here)

March 18-21 in Washington DC: Spring Rising

March 26 to May 29: 65 days nonviolent blockade at nuclear air base Büchel, Germany.

March 28 – April 3 in Nevada: Nevada Desert Experience – Sacred Peace Walk

March 28 in Glasgow, Scotland: #TridentHastoGoNow demonstration

March 30 in Knoxville, Tennessee: Moving Towards a Nuclear Free Future 2015 walk to New York City for April 24 events

April 11 Michigan – David Swanson speaking

April 13 in Scotland: #BairnsNotBOMBS Big Blockade

April 13, Global Day of Action Against Military Spending

April 15, March for the Homeless

April 22, March from EPA to Pentagon

April 24 – April 26 in New York, NY: Peace and the Planet Conference and Rally
* April 24/25 – An international peace, justice and environmental conference
* April 26 – A major international rally, march to the United Nations and peace festival

April 25 Houston – David Swanson speaking

April 27-29 at the Hague: WILPF Turns 100

April 27 – May 22 at United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY: NPT Review Conference (“RevCon”)
* Call for NPT-related organizing
* NPT brief overview
* NPT Home page at UN

May 8-10 in New Jersey: Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad

May 19 in Linz, Austria: Nuclear Energy Conference 2015

May 24 in Korea: Women’s March for Peace

May 25 in Washington, D.C., a Veterans For Peace Memorial Day

August 6 – 9 in Santa Fe, NM: Campaign Nonviolence National Conference
(Aug 6 – Mark the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima with the annual sackcloth and ashes peace vigil and call for nuclear disarmament near the National Labs.
Aug 9 – Mark the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki with the annual sackcloth and ashes peace vigil and call for nuclear disarmament near the National Labs.)

August 6 in Hiroshima, Japan: “August 6, 2015 will be the 70th anniversary of the bombing [of Hiroshima]. Annually, there are events such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, with guest speakers, and the Lantern Floating Ceremony, in which lanterns float on the river as petitions for peace. Additional special events for the 70th anniversary are to be announced.”

August 9 in Nagasaki, Japan: [August 9, 2015 will be the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. Commemoration events are held annually and, as with Hiroshima, it is expected that additional special events for the 70th anniversary are to be announced.]

August 27 Chicago – David Swanson speaking

September 20 – 27: Everywhere: Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions 2015

November – date TBD in Nagasaki, Japan: Annual Pugwash Conference

More nuclear disarmament events here. (Thanks to Joe Scarry!)

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David Swanson: “War is So 2014!”

January 4, 2015
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My guest is David Swanson, blogger, author, peace activist and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Welcome back to OpEdNews, David. You wrote a recent piece, Renaming Afghan War, Renaming Murder . Is that hyperbole or is this war really being renamed?

 

Oh, it’s no secret, although the news seems to have downplayed it by declaring the war over. This actually confused a fair number of people who remembered the recent announcement that troops would be staying for another decade and beyond. But when they declared the war over, they declared Operation Enduring Freedom over (long may the memory of its horrors endure!) And then, almost as a footnote, most reporting noted that troops would remain in place — not to mention (literally unmentioned) drones. And the thing those remaining troops will keep doing has the little-reported and highly laughable name of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. But if you take both the war before this week and the war beyond this week to be a war, then what happened was a name change.

 

By the way, I’m also director of WorldBeyondWar.org

 

Duly noted. Your article begins with an amazing fact about the length of this war, David. Would you recap it for our our readers, please?

 

I said of the ongoing U.S. war on Afghanistan: “The war thus far has lasted as long as U.S. participation in World War II plus U.S. participation in World War I, plus the Korean War, plus the Spanish American War, plus the full length of the U.S. war on the Philippines, combined with the whole duration of the Mexican American War.” That’s an accurate statement as far as it goes. President Obama has been credited with “ending” and “drawing down” this war not only while expanding it to triple the size but also for a longer period of time than various other major wars combined. The catch is that this war is not over or ending. This year was more deadly than any of the previous 12.

 

Wars are different now in many ways, fought against groups rather than nations, fought without limits in time or space, fought with proxies, fought with robots, fought with over 90% of the deaths on one side, fought with over 90% of the deaths civilian (that is, people not actively fighting against illegal invaders of their land). So, to call this a war and the war that stole Mexico a war is like calling both an apple and an orange a fruit — we’re mixing apples and oranges. That war was fought to expand territory and slavery by stealing half of someone else’s country. This war is fought to influence the control of a distant land for the benefit of certain profiteers and politicians. Yet both involved mass murder, wounding, kidnapping, rape, torture, and trauma. And both were lied about to the U.S. public from beginning to end. The war on Afghanistan has been easier to lie about, in something of the manner in which World War II was lied about during the war on Vietnam, because the war on Afghanistan has taken place at the same time as a less popular war on Iraq. Averse to even considering the idea that war itself could be a bad idea, people across the super-narrow U.S. political spectrum have insisted that because the Iraq war was bad, the war on Afghanistan must be good.

Try to get them to prove that it’s good, however, and they pretty much come down to “There have been no more 9-11s.” But that was true for centuries prior to 9-11 and isn’t really true now, as attacks on U.S. and Western facilities and personnel have been rising during the War on Terra (the name some of us give the so-called War on Terror because you can’t fight a war against terror as war itself is terror, and as Terra means the earth), along with opposition to U.S. foreign policy — with a Gallup poll a year ago finding the U.S. widely considered the greatest threat to peace on earth. The U.S. also pulled its troops out of Saudi Arabia, actually addressing one of the causes of 9-11, even while devoting most of its energy to further antagonizing the world.
Putting Words into Actions
(image by DavidSwanson.org)

 

Hold on. There’s a lot to talk about here. You just said “in something of the manner in which World War II was lied about during the war on Vietnam”. Did you mean to say that, David? Please clarify. What lies were told about WWII and what did that have to do with Vietnam? You lost me there.

 

World War II became known as The Good War in contrast to the War on Vietnam which was the Bad War. In fact, it was very important for people who opposed the war on Vietnam to be able to say they weren’t against all wars and to point to a good one. This has remained the case for most US-Americans for the past three-quarters of a century and it has 99% of the time for 99% of the people been WWII that they point to as the supposedly good war. But when Obama campaigned for the presidency and even earlier than that, he liked to stress that he was against only dumb wars (meaning the 2003-begun war on Iraq which he has since praised and glorified, not to mention prolonging and re-starting) and he called Afghanistan the Good War.

 

This is very common in Washington DC and very uncommon outside of it. There has to be a good war or one risks falling into the principled position of WorldBeyondWar.org that war is an abomination that needs to be abolished along with all preparations for more of it. I interviewed Jonathan Landay on my radio show this week ( TalkNationRadio.org ) — he was one of the very few reporters who did any actual reporting in the corporate media in the lead-up to the 2003 attack on Baghdad — and he, too, claimed Afghanistan was a good war and war in general is good. One has to think that way to work in Washington.

 

I asked him about Bush rejecting Taliban attempts to turn bin Laden over for a trial, and Landay declared that the Taliban never would have done it because so abusing a guest violates Pashtun culture, as if allowing your nation to be bombed and occupied doesn’t violate Pashtun culture. Landay didn’t dispute the story that it was Bush who had rejected the offer — and we didn’t really have time to get into it — but he simply declared what had happened to have been impossible. He could be right, but I very much doubt it, and in any case that is not the reason that virtually no one in the United States knows the incident ever happened — and had been happening for years. The reason is related to the reason USians (people from the nation of the United States as opposed to the continents of America) danced in the street when bin Laden’s death was announced: to have a good war, one must fight an evil subhuman force with which negotiation is impossible.
Arrested: signs say: Stop These Wars, Expose the Lies, Free Bradley Manning
(image by DavidSwanson.org)

 

I don’t think people really know about the Taliban’s several offers to turn bin Laden over. If that’s correct, that’s a rather big and glaring “oversight”. Where’s the press? Also, I don’t think the average citizen knows that our involvement in Afghanistan has not wound down as advertised. How can we possibly keep up if the goalposts and even the names of military campaigns keep changing? Our ignorance is really dangerous.

 

Ignorance is the fuel for war like wood is the fuel for fire. Cut off the supply of ignorance and war ends. The Washington Post this past year asked US-Americans to find Ukraine on a map. A small fraction could do it, and those who placed Ukraine furthest from its actual location were the most likely to want the U.S. military to attack Ukraine. There was a correlation: the less one knew about WHERE Ukraine was the more one wanted it attacked — and this after controlling for various other variables.

1  |  2  |  3

 

http://www.opednews.com/author/author79.html

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more…)

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The Cost of US Wars Since 9/11: $1.6 Trillion

December 27, 2014

| Tue Dec. 23, 2014 6:15 AM EST
    • Email
Marine Infantry Officer Course students stand by before a helicopter drill in Arizona.

The cost of US war-making in the 13 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks reached a whopping $1.6 trillion in 2014, according to arecent report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The $1.6 trillion in war spending over that time span includes the cost of military operations, the training of security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, weapons maintenance, base support, reconstruction, embassy maintenance, foreign aid, and veterans’ medical care, as well as war-related intelligence operations not tracked by the Pentagon. The report tracks expenses through September, the end of the government’s 2014 fiscal year. Here’s a breakdown of where most of that money went:

http://mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/7nTPt/2/index.html

The key factor determining the cost of war during a given period over the last 13 years has been the number of US troops deployed, according to the report. The number of troops in Afghanistan peaked in 2011, when 100,000 Americans were stationed there. The number of US armed forces in Iraq reached a high of about 170,000 in 2007.

Although Congress enacted across-the-board spending cuts in March 2013, the Pentagon’s war-making money was left untouched. The minimal cuts, known as sequestration, came from the Defense Department’s regular peacetime budget. The Pentagon gets a separatebudget for fighting wars.

In the spending bill that Congress approved earlier this month, lawmakers doled out $73.7 billion for war-related activities in 2015—$2.3 billion more than President Barack Obama had requested. As Mother Jones‘ Dave Gilson reported last year, US military spending is on pace to taper far less dramatically in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than it did after the end of the Vietnam War or the Cold War.

Other reports have estimated the cost of US wars since 9/11 to be far higher than $1.6 trillion. A report by Neta Crawford, a political science professor at Boston University, estimated the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as well as post-2001 assistance to Pakistan—to be roughly $4.4 trillion. The CRS estimate is lower because it does not include additional costs including the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt.

Chart by AJ Vicens.

Top 5 Planks of 2016 GOP Platform? Torture, War, Bank Corruption, Paid-For Elections

December 22, 2014

Juan Cole; public intellectual, prominent blogger, essayist and professor of history. (photo: Informed Comment)
Juan Cole; public intellectual, prominent blogger, essayist and professor of history. (photo: Informed Comment)

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

21 December 14

 

his week, the release by the Senate of a report on torture as practiced in the zeroes by the CIA, along with Thursday night’s dramatic vote on an omnibus spending bill, laid bare the shape of the GOP platform in 2016. (Some Democrats were dragooned into voting for the spending bill, but key provisions or riders were clearly inserted by the GOP). However much the party or its members deny it, the practical actions and concrete words of party leaders make clear their priorities.

1. With a few noble exceptions like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Republican Party spokesmen, Republican politicians, and Republican media like Fox Cable News, defended torture. This defense was mounted from so many directions by so many Republicans that it now seems indisputable that the party stands for the principle of rectal hydration. Since torture is illegal in American law, presumably they want to repeal the 5th and 8th amendments to the constitution.

2. The Republican Party stands for the principle that elections should be stolen by the rich who pay the most for them. The new bill multiplies permitted donations by a factor of ten.

3. The GOP wants the US taxpayer to be made to bail out risky, casino-like “derivatives.” After the 2008 crash, caused by some corrupt Wall Street financiers stealing our money, Congress had removed FDIC protection from the riskier derivatives. The GOP, plotting in smoke filled rooms far from the light, just put the taxpayer right back in the sights the next time the bankers need a bailout. The provision was actually written by CitiBank, which won’t get my business. They think, much better to gamble with the taxpayers’ money; they would, but why would GOP lawmakers agree to be their ventriloquist’s dummy?

4. The bill blocks aid to the Palestine authority if it becomes a member of UN agencies without Israeli permission. Palestine has been recognized as a non-member observer state at the UN, and is gradually joining key committees. It likely will sign the Rome Statute, join the International Criminal Court, and sue Israel for war crimes. But in the fantasyland of Congress, none of this may be allowed to happen. The PA has other sources of money than the US, and all this provision does is further weaken the ability of the US to do effective diplomacy.

5. This fall, most Republicans ran on putting troops back into Iraq and getting even more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war than the US already is. This is a plank in their platform that leads to sanguinary wars.

These, then, are the major issues on which the GOP is running for the presidency in 2016. They underline that the party represents the 3 million wealthiest Americans, and has no scruples that might interfere in doing exactly what the 1% tells them to do.

But do these planks really amount to the platform Americans want to vote for in 2016? On the surface, no. But time shall tell.

 


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