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Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The Swamp of War

November 30, 2016

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Sometimes it’s tough to pull lessons of any sort from our confusing world, but let me mention one obvious (if little noted) case where that couldn’t be less true: the American military and its wars. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has been in a state of more or less permanent war in the Greater Middle East and northern Africa. In those years, it’s been involved in a kaleidoscopic range of activities, including full-scale invasions and occupations, large-scale as well as pinpoint bombing campaigns, drone strikes, special ops raids, advisory missions, training programs, and counterinsurgency operations. The U.S. military has fought regular armies, insurgencies, and terror groups of all sorts, Shiites as well as Sunnis. The first war of this era, in Afghanistan — a country Washington declared “liberated” in 2002 — is still underway 16 years later (and not going well). The second war, in Iraq, is still ongoing 13 years later. From Afghanistan to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Somalia, the U.S. military effort in these years, sometimes involving “nation building” and enormous “reconstruction” programs, has left in its wake a series of weakened or collapsed states and spreading terror outfits. In short, no matter how the U.S. military has been used, nothing it’s done has truly worked out.

Now, we are about to enter the Trump era in which a series of retired generals, previously involved in these very wars, may end up running parts of the government or directly advising the president-elect on what course to take in the world. As Trump said in his recent interview with the New York Times, speaking of appointing retired General James Mattis as secretary of defense, “I think it’s time maybe, it’s time for a general. Look at what’s going on. We don’t win, we can’t beat anybody, we don’t win anymore. At anything.”

Nonetheless, you don’t have to be either a genius or a general to draw a simple enough lesson from these last 15 years of American war, even if it’s not Trump’s lesson: don’t do it. Of course, the new crew (aka the old crew) will naturally have ideas about how to “utterly destroy ISIS” and fulfill the president’s other promises in ways different from those already used. They will undoubtedly convince themselves that, unlike their predecessors (who just happen to be them), they have answers to the conundrum of how to effectively prosecute the war on terror. They will not, in other words, have learned the obvious lesson of these years and will, in some fashion, once again apply U.S. military power to the Greater Middle East and northern Africa — and whatever they do, however successful it may look in its early moments, it’s a guarantee that further disaster will ensue sooner or later. Guaranteed as well: that vast region will be “greater” only in terms of the ever vaster expanses of rubble where cities and towns used to be; and our “empire of chaos” there will continue to blow back here as well. It will come home in expense, in frustration, and in god knows what other ways.

Rest assured of one thing, it won’t be pretty, either there or here, a point made by TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, while doing something that, strangely enough, has scarcely been done in all these years of war: evaluating the performance of America’s generals. Tom

Winning
Trump Loves to Do It, But American Generals Have Forgotten How
By Andrew J. Bacevich

President-elect Donald Trump’s message for the nation’s senior military leadership is ambiguously unambiguous. Here is he on 60 Minutes just days after winning the election.

Trump: “We have some great generals. We have great generals.”

Lesley Stahl: “You said you knew more than the generals about ISIS.”

Trump: “Well, I’ll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they’ve done. OK, look at the job they’ve done. They haven’t done the job.”

In reality, Trump, the former reality show host, knows next to nothing about ISIS, one of many gaps in his education that his impending encounter with actual reality is likely to fill. Yet when it comes to America’s generals, our president-to-be is onto something. No doubt our three- and four-star officers qualify as “great” in the sense that they mean well, work hard, and are altogether fine men and women. That they have not “done the job,” however, is indisputable — at least if their job is to bring America’s wars to a timely and successful conclusion.

Trump’s unhappy verdict — that the senior U.S. military leadership doesn’t know how to win — applies in spades to the two principal conflicts of the post-9/11 era: the Afghanistan War, now in its 16th year, and the Iraq War, launched in 2003 and (after a brief hiatus) once more grinding on. Yet the verdict applies equally to lesser theaters of conflict, largely overlooked by the American public, that in recent years have engaged the attention of U.S. forces, a list that would include conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

Granted, our generals have demonstrated an impressive aptitude for moving pieces around on a dauntingly complex military chessboard. Brigades, battle groups, and squadrons shuttle in and out of various war zones, responding to the needs of the moment. The sheer immensity of the enterprise across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa — the sorties flown, munitions expended, the seamless deployment and redeployment of thousands of troops over thousands of miles, the vast stockpiles of material positioned, expended, and continuously resupplied — represents a staggering achievement. Measured by these or similar quantifiable outputs, America’s military has excelled. No other military establishment in history could have come close to duplicating the logistical feats being performed year in, year out by the armed forces of the United States.

Nor should we overlook the resulting body count. Since the autumn of 2001, something like 370,000 combatants and noncombatants have been killed in the various theaters of operations where U.S. forces have been active. Although modest by twentieth century standards, this post-9/11 harvest of death is hardly trivial.

Yet in evaluating military operations, it’s a mistake to confuse how much with how well. Only rarely do the outcomes of armed conflicts turn on comparative statistics. Ultimately, the one measure of success that really matters involves achieving war’s political purposes. By that standard, victory requires not simply the defeat of the enemy, but accomplishing the nation’s stated war aims, and not just in part or temporarily but definitively. Anything less constitutes failure, not to mention utter waste for taxpayers, and for those called upon to fight, it constitutes cause for mourning.

By that standard, having been “at war” for virtually the entire twenty-first century, the United States military is still looking for its first win. And however strong the disinclination to concede that Donald Trump could be right about anything, his verdict on American generalship qualifies as apt.

Never-Ending Parade of Commanders for Wars That Never End

That verdict brings to mind three questions. First, with Trump a rare exception, why have the recurring shortcomings of America’s military leadership largely escaped notice? Second, to what degree does faulty generalship suffice to explain why actual victory has proven so elusive? Third, to the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy bear directly on the outcome of our wars, how might the generals improve their game?

As to the first question, the explanation is quite simple: During protracted wars, traditional standards for measuring generalship lose their salience. Without pertinent standards, there can be no accountability. Absent accountability, failings and weaknesses escape notice. Eventually, what you’ve become accustomed to seems tolerable. Twenty-first century Americans inured to wars that never end have long since forgotten that bringing such conflicts to a prompt and successful conclusion once defined the very essence of what generals were expected to do.

Senior military officers were presumed to possess unique expertise in designing campaigns and directing engagements. Not found among mere civilians or even among soldiers of lesser rank, this expertise provided the rationale for conferring status and authority on generals.

In earlier eras, the very structure of wars provided a relatively straightforward mechanism for testing such claims to expertise. Events on the battlefield rendered harsh judgments, creating or destroying reputations with brutal efficiency.

Back then, standards employed in evaluating generalship were clear-cut and uncompromising. Those who won battles earned fame, glory, and the gratitude of their countrymen. Those who lost battles got fired or were put out to pasture.

During the Civil War, for example, Abraham Lincoln did not need an advanced degree in strategic studies to conclude that Union generals like John Pope, Ambrose Burnside, and Joseph Hooker didn’t have what it took to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia. Humiliating defeats sustained by the Army of the Potomac at the Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville made that obvious enough. Similarly, the victories Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman gained at Shiloh, at Vicksburg, and in the Chattanooga campaign strongly suggested that here was the team to which the president could entrust the task of bringing the Confederacy to its knees.

Today, public drunkenness, petty corruption, or sexual shenanigans with a subordinate might land generals in hot water. But as long as they avoid egregious misbehavior, senior officers charged with prosecuting America’s wars are largely spared judgments of any sort. Trying hard is enough to get a passing grade.

With the country’s political leaders and public conditioned to conflicts seemingly destined to drag on for years, if not decades, no one expects the current general-in-chief in Iraq or Afghanistan to bring things to a successful conclusion. His job is merely to manage the situation until he passes it along to a successor, while duly adding to his collection of personal decorations and perhaps advancing his career.

Today, for example, Army General John Nicholson commands U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. He’s only the latest in a long line of senior officers to preside over that war, beginning with General Tommy Franks in 2001 and continuing with Generals Mikolashek, Barno, Eikenberry, McNeill, McKiernan, McChrystal, Petraeus, Allen, Dunford, and Campbell. The title carried by these officers changed over time. So, too, did the specifics of their “mission” as Operation Enduring Freedom evolved into Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Yet even as expectations slipped lower and lower, none of the commanders rotating through Kabul delivered. Not a single one has, in our president-elect’s concise formulation, “done the job.” Indeed, it’s increasingly difficult to know what that job is, apart from preventing the Taliban from quite literally toppling the government.

In Iraq, meanwhile, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend currently serves as the — count ’em — ninth American to command U.S. and coalition forces in that country since the George W. Bush administration ordered the invasion of 2003. The first in that line, (once again) General Tommy Franks, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime and thereby broke Iraq. The next five, Generals Sanchez, Casey, Petraeus, Odierno, and Austin, labored for eight years to put it back together again.

At the end of 2011, President Obama declared that they had done just that and terminated the U.S. military occupation. The Islamic State soon exposed Obama’s claim as specious when its militants put a U.S.-trained Iraqi army to flight and annexed large swathes of that country’s territory. Following in the footsteps of his immediate predecessors Generals James Terry and Sean MacFarland, General Townsend now shoulders the task of trying to restore Iraq’s status as a more or less genuinely sovereign state. He directs what the Pentagon calls Operation Inherent Resolve, dating from June 2014, the follow-on to Operation New Dawn (September 2010-December 2011), which was itself the successor to Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003-August 2010).

When and how Inherent Resolve will conclude is difficult to forecast. This much we can, however, say with some confidence: with the end nowhere in sight, General Townsend won’t be its last commander. Other generals are waiting in the wings with their own careers to polish. As in Kabul, the parade of U.S. military commanders through Baghdad will continue.

For some readers, this listing of mostly forgotten names and dates may have a soporific effect. Yet it should also drive home Trump’s point. The United States may today have the world’s most powerful and capable military — so at least we are constantly told. Yet the record shows that it does not have a corps of senior officers who know how to translate capability into successful outcomes.

Draining Which Swamp?

That brings us to the second question: Even if commander-in-chief Trump were somehow able to identify modern day equivalents of Grant and Sherman to implement his war plans, secret or otherwise, would they deliver victory?

On that score, we would do well to entertain doubts. Although senior officers charged with running recent American wars have not exactly covered themselves in glory, it doesn’t follow that their shortcomings offer the sole or even a principal explanation for why those wars have yielded such disappointing results. The truth is that some wars aren’t winnable and shouldn’t be fought.

So, yes, Trump’s critique of American generalship possesses merit, but whether he knows it or not, the question truly demanding his attention as the incoming commander-in-chief isn’t: Who should I hire (or fire) to fight my wars? Instead, far more urgent is: Does further war promise to solve any of my problems?

One mark of a successful business executive is knowing when to cut your losses. It’s also the mark of a successful statesman. Trump claims to be the former. Whether his putative business savvy will translate into the world of statecraft remains to be seen. Early signs are not promising.

As a candidate, Trump vowed to “defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” destroy ISIS, “decimate al-Qaeda,” and “starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah.” Those promises imply a significant escalation of what Americans used to call the Global War on Terrorism.

Toward that end, the incoming administration may well revive some aspects of the George W. Bush playbook, including repopulating the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and “if it’s so important to the American people,” reinstituting torture. The Trump administration will at least consider re-imposing sanctions on countries like Iran. It may aggressively exploit the offensive potential of cyber-weapons, betting that America’s cyber-defenses will hold.

Yet President Trump is also likely to double down on the use of conventional military force. In that regard, his promise to “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS” offers a hint of what is to come. His appointment of the uber-hawkish Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and his rumored selection of retired Marine Corps General James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis as defense secretary suggest that he means what he says. In sum, a Trump administration seems unlikely to reexamine the conviction that the problems roiling the Greater Middle East will someday, somehow yield to a U.S.-imposed military solution. Indeed, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, that conviction will deepen, with genuinely ironic implications for the Trump presidency.

In the immediate wake of 9/11, George W. Bush concocted a fantasy of American soldiers liberating oppressed Afghans and Iraqis and thereby “draining the swamp” that served to incubate anti-Western terrorism. The results achieved proved beyond disappointing, while the costs exacted in terms of lives and dollars squandered were painful indeed. Incrementally, with the passage of time, many Americans concluded that perhaps the swamp most in need of attention was not on the far side of the planet but much closer at hand — right in the imperial city nestled alongside the Potomac River.

To a very considerable extent, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, preferred candidate of the establishment, because he advertised himself as just the guy disgruntled Americans could count on to drain that swamp.

Yet here’s what too few of those Americans appreciate, even today: war created that swamp in the first place. War empowers Washington. It centralizes. It provides a rationale for federal authorities to accumulate and exercise new powers. It makes government bigger and more intrusive. It lubricates the machinery of waste, fraud, and abuse that causes tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to vanish every year. When it comes to sustaining the swamp, nothing works better than war.

Were Trump really intent on draining that swamp — if he genuinely seeks to “Make America Great Again” — then he would extricate the United States from war. His liquidation of Trump University, which was to higher education what Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve are to modern warfare, provides a potentially instructive precedent for how to proceed.

But don’t hold your breath on that one. All signs indicate that, in one fashion or another, our combative next president will perpetuate the wars he’s inheriting. Trump may fancy that, as a veteran of Celebrity Apprentice (but not of military service), he possesses a special knack for spotting the next Grant or Sherman. But acting on that impulse will merely replenish the swamp in the Greater Middle East along with the one in Washington. And soon enough, those who elected him with expectations of seeing the much-despised establishment dismantled will realize that they’ve been had.

Which brings us, finally, to that third question: To the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy do affect the outcome of wars, what can be done to fix the problem?

The most expeditious approach: purge all currently serving three- and four-star officers; then, make a precondition for promotion to those ranks confinement in a reeducation camp run by Iraq and Afghanistan war amputees, with a curriculum designed by Veterans for Peace. Graduation should require each student to submit an essay reflecting on these words of wisdom from U.S. Grant himself: “There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword.”

True, such an approach may seem a bit draconian. But this is no time for half-measures — as even Donald Trump may eventually recognize.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch.com (“a regular antidote to the mainstream media”), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The Swamp of War Sometimes it’s tough to pull lessons of any sort from our confusing world, but let me mention one obvious (if little noted) case where that couldn’t be less true: the American military and its wars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Hartung, Trump for the Defense As with so much of what Donald Trump has said in recent months, his positions on Pentagon spending are, to be polite, a bundle of contradictions.

Monday, November 21, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, No “New Normal” The night after the election, this long-time pacifist dreamed she shot a big white man carrying an arsenal of guns. He was wandering around a room full of people, waving a pistol and threatening to fire.

Thursday, November 17, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Mattea Kramer, You Don’t Leave Home Without It Not long before Election Day, but thousands of miles away in the Afghan village of Bouz Kandahari, 30 to 36 civilians died (including a significant number of children and infants).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 (2 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, America, the Election, and the Dismal Tide It wasn’t to be, but had it been, Hillary Clinton would have become not only the first woman president, but the first president to enter the Oval Office as a lame duck.

Monday, November 14, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Through the Gates of Hell The one thing you could say about empires is that, at or near their height, they have always represented a principle of order as well as domination.

Monday, November 7, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Michael Klare, Whose Finger on the Nuclear Button? Once upon a time, when choosing a new president, a factor for many voters was the perennial question: “Whose finger do you want on the nuclear button?”

Thursday, November 3, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Resurrecting My Parents From the Dead for Election 2016 To say that this is the election from hell is to insult hell.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Ann Jones, Donald Trump’s Open Carry Donald Trump grabbed a new lifeline. Speaking at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 15th, he raised a hand as if to take an oath and declared: “I am a victim!”

Monday, October 31, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nate Terani, One Veteran’s War on Islamophobia Recently, I was asked a question about Kill Anything That Moves, my history of civilian suffering during the Vietnam War. An interviewer wanted to know how I responded to veterans who took offense at the (supposed) implication that every American who served in Vietnam committed atrocities.

Thursday, October 27, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, Too Big to Fail, Hillary-Style Of a Hillary Clinton presidency, so much less has been written and yet she’s the woman who never saw a bank CEO she couldn’t get a couple of hundred thousand dollars from for giving thoroughly unsurprising speeches.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Hartung, The Doctrine of Armed Exceptionalism Here’s the strangeness of it all: America’s wars have been going badly for years in almost every way imaginable across the Greater Middle East and North Africa and yet, the Pentagon’s budget is already coming up roses and no matter who enters the Oval Office, it’s only going to get bigger.

Monday, October 24, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Gary Younge, America’s Deserving and Undeserving Dead Children On average, seven children a day, about 2,500 a year, are shot to death in this country. Given the availability of guns of every sort here, this should surprise no one.

Thursday, October 20, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, The Perpetual Killing Field Today’s TomDispatch post is a monumental piece of reporting from “the worst place on Earth” and, on a planet where, from Cambodia to Rwanda, people remember the grim slaughter grounds of our recent history, the least noticed “killing fields” around.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Sandy Tolan, The Death of the Two-State Solution The Obama administration just agreed to a 10-year military aid deal that will give Israel $38 billion dollars in, among other things, America’s most advanced weapons systems. The White House terms it “the largest single pledge of military assistance in U.S. history.”

Monday, October 17, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Finding Hope in Dismal Times Luckily, not everyone has been glued to the screen, eternally watching The Donald. From Black Lives Matter to the climate change movement, activists have, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon points out in a powerful (and powerfully upbeat) new post, never stopped working to make this a better world.

Thursday, October 13, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: John Feffer, Slouching Toward the Apocalypse This piece suggests far wilder ways in which Trump couldn’t be more in that same grain, if what you have in mind is the Dr. Strangelovian current that runs through American life, involving evangelicals, apocalyptics, survivalists, and white racists; even his extremity, that is, couldn’t be more us — or, if you prefer, more U.S. This one is an original and definitely a must-read!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Unipolar No More As Dilip Hiro points out in his TomDispatch post today, if you’ve noticed the growing assertiveness of China and Russia, you’ll know that we’re on an increasingly multipolar planet.

Thursday, October 6, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, This Is Not About Donald Trump I attempt to take a step back when it comes to the Trump phenomenon and look at what, despite the millions of words pouring out about him, is seldom said or thought much about: the ways in which, unique as this presidential election season may be, Trump himself couldn’t be more in the American tradition — as American, in fact, as a piece of McDonald’s baked apple pie.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The National Security Void You may have missed it. Perhaps you dozed off. Or wandered into the kitchen to grab a snack. Or by that point in the proceedings were checking out Seinfeld reruns. During the latter part of the much hyped but excruciating-to-watch first presidential debate, Lester Holt posed a seemingly straightforward but cunningly devised question.

Monday, October 3, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, What Actually Keeps Americans Safe We have a vast national security state that remains remarkably helpless when it comes to finding the terrorists in our American world. It is simply incapable of picking those unexpected needles out of the vast haystack of us.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, Trump’s Future Piggy Bank, Our Country? As Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers points out in her latest TomDispatch piece on election 2016, there’s one thing Donald Trump is not prepared to do, whatever the political positions he may espouse: give up what’s best for Donald Trump.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 (3 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, Killing People, Breaking Things, and America’s Winless Wars America’s post-9/11 wars have been going on for years and it seems as if, in conflict after conflict, the U.S. military can’t get out of them and can’t win any of them either.

Monday, September 26, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Arresting Our Way to “Justice” More than 2.3 million people are in American jails and prisons at any moment, more than 11 million cycling through them each year.

Thursday, September 22, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, War, Peace, and Absurdity Here’s my version of why, in war and peace, bombing and politics, the stories out of this country these days should boggle our minds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Chip Ward, Peace Pipes, Not Oil Pipes With the return of Utah environmentalist Chip Ward to TomDispatch comes a vivid analysis of the latest dramatic oil pipeline battle in the West, the stand-off at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Monday, September 19, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, Class of 2017 — So Sorry! Fifteen years after 9/11, war and possible war are embedded in our American way of life and the public is consumed with safety and security-related fears, of terrorism in particular, that have little basis in reality but have helped immensely to expand our national security state.

Thursday, September 15, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Rise of the Right and Climate Catastrophe Today, consider what TomDispatch’s invaluable energy expert Michael Klare has to say about the rise of versions of The Donald globally and what, in climate-change terms, that means for the health of our planet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Aviva Chomsky, Deportations “R” Us Sometimes, as today at TomDispatch, what’s needed is a little history lesson to remind us that what seems unique in our moment — in this case, Donald Trump’s attitude toward immigrants (whether Mexican or Syrian) — is anything but unique to our time.

Monday, September 12, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Bill Moyers, Money and Power in America Bill Moyers on how the U.S. became a 1% society — and why democracy and plutocracy don’t mix.

Thursday, September 8, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, A 9/11 Retrospective: Washington’s 15-Year Air War I offer what I hope is a unique 9/11 retrospective for the 15th anniversary of that nightmare: a look at what’s been at the heart of events since that morning — a set of air wars that have gone on fruitlessly and destructively for 15 years and show no signs of ever ending.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, What the U.S. Military Doesn’t Know (and Neither Do You) What the Pentagon and the U.S. military do matters greatly on this conflicted planet of ours, which is why I regularly find it amazing, even unnerving, that, in a world of monster media organizations, covering what the U.S. military does in Africa — and it’s doing more and more there — has largely been left to Nick Turse of TomDispatch.

Monday, August 29, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Arlie Hochschild, Trumping Environmentalism TomDispatch takes you on a remarkable journey into the bayous of Louisiana, a world of Tea Party supporters, of an environmental disaster, and of the confounding contradictions of American political life in the midst of Election 2016.

Thursday, August 25, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Ann Jones, “I Didn’t Serve, I Was Used” At TomDispatch today, a powerful piece on how, from Big Pharma to the Koch brothers, vets coming home from America’s wars have been taken to the cleaners.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Todd Miller, The Great Mexican Wall Deception Todd Miller reminds us, Trump supporters shouldn’t feel complete despair if, in the course of this election campaign, The Donald goes down in flames.

Monday, August 22, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Making Sense of Trump and His National Security State Critics Rebecca Gordon takes a clear-eyed look at the Republican national security luminaries who recently signed a letter declaring Donald Trump unfit for the Oval Office (and yes, indeed, he is unfit for office).

Thursday, August 18, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Best of TomDispatch: Andrew Bacevich, Pentagon, Inc. A writer who dares to revisit a snarky article dashed off five-plus years earlier will necessarily approach the task with some trepidation. Pieces such as the one republished below are not drafted with the expectation that they will enjoy a protracted shelf life. Yet in this instance, I’m with Edith Piaf: Non, je ne regrette rien.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Judith Coburn, On the Mean Streets of America Step aside, Sam Spade. Move over, Philip Marlowe. You want noir? Skip the famed private eye novels and films of the 1930s and 1940s and turn to our present American world and to neighborhoods where the postman doesn’t ring even once, but the police are ready to shoot more than once, often on the slightest excuse.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Astore, Why It’s So Hard for Members of the Military to Speak Out These days, who writes about how little public dissent or criticism of U.S. foreign policy and its disastrous wars comes from those who are at the heart of the process, who should know so much better than the rest of us? In all these years, I’ve seen next to nothing on the subject military dissent in particular.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 (2 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Election From Hell Consider this post my attempt to make some sense of what we’re still calling an “election campaign,” although it has by now become more like an all-encompassing way of life and, despite its many “debates” (that now garner National Football League-sized audiences), is also what I label “the tao of confusion.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, Pseudo-Election 2016 Andrew Bacevich takes a trip back to his childhood — to the 1956 election between Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson and offers a particularly clear-eyed look at how, over six decades, American politics at the national level descended into the pathological election campaign of the present moment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, The U.S. Military Pivots to Africa and That Continent Goes Down the Drain Things are not exactly going well militarily 15 years after 9/11. The Obama administration will hand over at least seven wars and conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa to the next administration and from Afghanistan to Libya, Somalia, and Nigeria, things are just getting worse.

Monday, August 1, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, Guns for Tots Frida Berrigan uses her experiences as a mother with her three young children to explore, in a freewheeling and fascinating way, toy culture, toy guns, the NRA, the weapons industry, and kids (and what we adults can take from such subjects).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Hartung, How to Arm a “Volatile” Planet So here’s this morning’s puzzle for you: two major U.S. industries make things that go boom in the night: Hollywood and the arms business.

Monday, July 25, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Crimes Against the Future In this one, as befits my age, I imagine the world I will, sooner or later, be leaving behind: a destabilizing country and a planet filling with refugees, especially millions of children uprooted from their worlds and lives, deprived often of parents, education, and a childhood.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Adam Hochschild, Letting Tarzan Swing Through History Adam Hochschild recently discovered that the latest reboot of the Tarzan movies, The Legend of Tarzan, was, bizarrely enough, in part based on his classic book King Leopold’s Ghost — on, that is, the colonial nightmare of the Belgian Congo.

Monday, July 18, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, How Extrajudicial Executions Became “War” Policy in Washington Rebecca Gordon’s new post is an eye-opening look at how two American administrations changed the nature of war, using the drone to bring extrajudicial executions — presidentially ordered assassinations — into the heartland of American foreign policy.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Michael Klare, Fossil Fuels Forever Based on the latest yearly report from the U.S. Department of Energy, while renewable forms of energy are growing far faster than anyone expected, so — startlingly enough — is the use of fossil fuels. As a result, it looks like oil, coal, and natural gas will continue to expand and dominate the global energy landscape for decades to come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Astore, We Have Met the Alien and He Is Us When we go to the movies, we identify with the outgunned rebels, the underdogs, the liberators, against the alien invaders, the imperial stormtroopers, the Terminators. Here, however, is one retired Air Force lieutenant colonel’s hard won realization that we — the U.S. military in particular — may be the invading “aliens” in much of the world.

Monday, July 11, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, Trump Wins (Even If He Loses) Nomi Prins turns to the billionaire who has taken possession of us all. Her focus: his frenetic version of “You’re fired!” this election season and how that’s played out with the Republican establishment, without whom (and without whose money) she doubts he can make it to the Oval Office.

Thursday, July 7, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Where Did the American Century Go? Is this actually the American Century? And concludes that perhaps it’s not, despite the fact that we remain the globe’s “sole superpower.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, Revolving Doors, Robust Rolodexes, and Runaway Generals Nick Turse offers a riveting look at what “retirement” means for top commanders in the U.S. military and believe me, if you don’t think public service pays big time, think again.

Thursday, June 30, 2016 (2 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Thomas Frank, Worshipping Money in D.C. Thomas Frank takes us on an eye-opening tour of the lobbying industry in Washington, a dimly lit corner of “corruption-free America,” a completely legal and remarkably unethical world that comes with its own guidebook: Influence, a newsletter chronicling daily dalliances involving money, alcohol, and political influence.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Patrick Cockburn, An Endless Cycle of Indecisive Wars As Patrick Cockburn points out in his TomDispatch post today, we have entered “an age of disintegration.” And he should know. There may be no Western reporter who has covered the grim dawn of that age in the Greater Middle East and North Africa.

Monday, June 27, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: John Feffer, Donald Trump and America B John Feffer focuses on the post-Cold War global economy and who it left behind, a group that has no name here but is known in Poland as “Poland B” and is now triumphantly represented in power by a rabid right-wing political party there.

Thursday, June 23, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics… and U.S. Africa Command Turse explores the way U.S. Africa Command has seemingly massaged its numbers in testimony to Congress and so evidently managed to disappear piles of its missions on that continent, obscuring the expansion of U.S. military operations there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 (4 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Astore, The End of Air Power? air power alone can’t be blamed for the sorry fates of the lands of the Greater Middle East, increasingly descending into chaos and terror, but let’s just say — as retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Astore does in his new post — that it has proven startlingly incapable of producing any positive results.

Thursday, June 16, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Cockburn, Victory Assured on the Military’s Main Battlefield — Washington Today, Andrew Cockburn, whose recent book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (just out in paperback), is a devastating account of how U.S. drone warfare really works, suggests that such results are anything but. Quite the opposite, it represents strategic thinking and maneuvering of the first order and results in the Pentagon regularly taking the budgetary high ground in Washington.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Ann Jones, Donald Trump Has the Traits of a Wife Abuser and Women Know It Ann Jones makes sense of Donald Trump’s stunningly unfavorable polling numbers among women and why, thanks to what lies behind them, the only billionaire in the running may not, in fact, make it to the White House.

Noam ChomskyMonday, June 13, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Tick… Tick… Tick… It’s no small horror that, on this planet of ours, humanity continues to foster two apocalyptic forces, each of which — one in a relative instant and the other over many decades — could cripple or destroy human life as we know it.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

France’s Retribution Will Be Swift and Harsh, as Will the Inevitable Reaction, and as Will the Retribution for the Reaction.

November 15, 2015

Police patrol near the Eiffel Tower the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris. (photo: Reuters)
Police patrol near the Eiffel Tower the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris. (photo: Reuters)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

14 November 15

 

ir travel used to bestow a kind of immunity. Wheels up into the blackening sunset, and the world couldn’t touch you. The office couldn’t call. Nobody could find you. It was a three-hour recess from the news and cares and pain of the world. Of course, this odd place of solace has gone the way of free baggage check-in and actual food in coach. The technology has given the world a longer, deeper reach. So, if you choose, you can sit on a plane over a dark, anonymous planet and get the news of an impeccably organized murder half a world away.

French radio reporter Julien Pearce was inside the Bataclan theater when gunmen entered. Two men dressed in black started shooting what he described as AK-47s, and after wounded people fell to the floor, the two gunmen shot them again, execution-style, he said. The two men didn’t wear masks and didn’t say anything. The gunfire lasted 10 to 15 minutes, sending the crowd inside the small concert hall into a screaming panic, said Pearce, who escaped. He said he saw 20 to 25 bodies lying on the floor. The hostage situation at the Bataclan continued early Saturday. One of the explosions at the Stade de France outside Paris appears to be a suicide bombing, a Western intelligence source receiving direct intelligence from the scene told CNN’s Deb Feyerick. A dismembered body, consistent with the aftermath of an explosion from that type of device, was found at the scene, the source said.

There is no question that it will get worse as they move toward dawn in Paris. There is no question that it will get worse as the days turn into months and the months into years. Barbarians have laid siege to an entire European city for one of the first times since Rome fell. The body count will climb. The retribution will be swift and harsh, as will the inevitable reaction, and as will the retribution for the reaction. And the events of the day will be fed into the armored, blind triviality of the ongoing American election, and into the utterly corrupted American political system, and into the carefully cultivated timidity and faithlessness that all of these things have combined to make out of the American democracy over the past 15 years. Something awful has happened in Paris. Out of it will be born something awful in the collective mind and the collective heart and the collective soul. I wish I weren’t so sure of this, but the planet looks awfully black from up here, and it doesn’t look any different if you close your eyes.​

 

Obama administration abandons Pentagon program to train Syrian rebels

October 9, 2015

October 09, 2015

The New York Times

NYTimes.com »

Breaking News Alert

October 09, 2015

BREAKING NEWS
Obama administration abandons Pentagon program to train Syrian rebels

Friday, October 9, 2015 7:40 AM EDT

The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria.
Pentagon officials were expected to officially announce the end of the program on Friday, as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter leaves London after meetings with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, about the continuing wars in Syria and Iraq.
Read more »

The UN: Pretending to Oppose War for 70 Years

September 28, 2015

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From flickr.com/photos/85903370@N00/3680427729/: United Nations logo
From flickr.com/photos/85903370@N00/3680427729/: United Nations logo
United Nations logo
(image by Harshil.Shah) License DMCA
The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals don’t just ignore the fact that development isn’t sustainable; they revel in it. One of the goals is spreading energy use. Another is economic growth. Another is preparation for climate chaos (not preventing it, but dealing with it). And how does the United Nations deal with problems? Generally through wars and sanctions.

This institution was set up 70 years ago to keep nations, rather than a global body, in charge, and to keep the victors of World War II in a permanent position of dominating the rest of the globe. The UN legalized “defensive” wars and any wars it “authorizes” for whatever reason. It now says drones have made war “the norm,” but addressing that problem is not among the 17 goals now being considered. Ending war is not among the goals. Disarmament isn’t mentioned. The Arms Trade Treaty put through last year still lacks the United States, China, and Russia, but that’s not among the 17 concerns of “sustainable development.”

Saudi Arabia’s “responsibility to protect” Yemen by murdering its people with U.S. weapons isn’t at issue. Saudi Arabia is busy crucifying children and heading up the UN’s Human Rights Council. Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Foreign Minister of Turkey have declared that they will start addressing the full “lifecycle” of young people who become “terrorists.” Of course, they’ll do so without mentioning the U.S.-led wars that have traumatized the region or the by now long established record of the global war on terrorism producing terrorism.

I’m happy to have signed this letter, which you, too, can sign below:

To: U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon

– Advertisement -The U.N. Charter was ratified on October 24, 1945. Its potential is still unfulfilled. It has been used to advance and misused to impede the cause of peace. We urge a rededication to its original goal of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

Whereas the Kellogg-Briand Pact forbids all war, the U.N. Charter opens up the possibility of a “legal war.” While most wars do not meet the narrow qualifications of being defensive or U.N.-authorized, many wars are marketed as if they meet those qualifications, and many people are fooled. After 70 years isn’t it time for the United Nations to cease authorizing wars and to make clear to the world that attacks on distant nations are not defensive?

The danger lurking in the “responsibility to protect” doctrine must be addressed. Acceptance of murder by armed drone as either non-war or legal war must be decisively rejected. To fulfill its promise, the United Nations must rededicate itself to these words from the U.N. Charter: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”

To advance, the United Nations must be democratized so that all people of the world have an equal voice, and no single or small number of wealthy, war-oriented nations dominate the UN’s decisions. We urge you to pursue this path.

World Beyond War has outlined specific reforms that would democratize the United Nations, and make nonviolent actions the primary activity engaged in. Please read them here.

INITIAL SIGNERS:
David Swanson
Coleen Rowley
David Hartsough
Patrick Hiller
Alice Slater
Kevin Zeese
Heinrich Buecker
Norman Solomon
Sandra Osei Twumasi
Jeff Cohen
Leah Bolger

Add your name.

http://davidswanson.org

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 views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

War Is A Lie

September 16, 2015

The updated second edition of War Is A Lie will be published onApril 5, 2016, by Just World Books.

Please support your local bookstores, but if you buy it from Amazon, please buy it on April 5th to put it at the top of the charts on day one.

I will make a limited number of appearances around the U.S. and elsewhere to speak about the new book. If you or your organization would like to help organize such an event near you, please click REPLY and let me know.

The first edition of War Is A Lie had a huge impact in 2010 and was published in the United States, Europe, and China. It has been taken out of print in preparation for the new one.

The new leader of the Labour Party in the UK recommends this book.

More recommendations and information are at http://WarIsALie.org

*****

The Israeli government did everything it could to defeat the nuclear deal with Iran and failed.

Click here if you think it would be a mistake for the U.S. to now give Israel weapons with which it could start a war on Iran by itself.

President Obama wants to reward Israel by authorizing the transfer of “massive ordnance penetrators” and other advanced weaponry needed for an Israeli attack on Iran, and by promising Israel as much as $45 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons over the next 10 years.

If Israel starts a war with Iran, it will be very difficult to keep the United States out of it.

If Israel uses new U.S. weapons to attack Palestinian civilians, their blood will be on the hands of U.S. taxpayers.

In fact, Israel’s routine attacks on Palestinians make the transfer of U.S. weaponry to Israel illegal under U.S. law.

Click here to ask President Obama to comply with the law.

*****

Enough!

Our friends in Afghanistan have created another place where you can sign your name for abolishing war and meet others who are working on the same thing. Please visit them here.

***** 

The International Day of Peace and other events around the world

Find them here.

Help support DavidSwanson.org, WarIsACrime.org, and TalkNationRadio.org by clicking here:http://davidswanson.org/donate.

Sign up for these emails at https://actionnetwork.org/forms/activism-alerts-from-david-swanson.

Despite 14 Years of the US War on Terror, Terror Attacks Have Skyrocketed Since 9/11

September 11, 2015

A U.S. soldier secures a landing zone for a Black Hawk helicopter in the Shigal district center in Kunar province, Afghanistan. (photo: Getty)
A U.S. soldier secures a landing zone for a Black Hawk helicopter in the Shigal district center in Kunar province, Afghanistan. (photo: Getty)

By Paul Gottinger, Reader Supported News

11 September 15

 

error attacks have jumped by a stunning 6,500% since 2002, according to a new analysis by Reader Supported News. The number of casualties resulting from terror attacks has increased by 4,500% over this same time period. These colossal upsurges in terror took place despite a decade-long, worldwide effort to fight terrorism that has been led by the United States.

The analysis, conducted with figures provided by the US State Department, also shows that from 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world’s terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan – two countries being occupied by the US at the time.

Countries experiencing US military interventions continue to be subjected to high numbers of terror attacks, according to the data. In 2014, 74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either US air strikes or a military occupation in that year.

The data also show that the number of terror attacks around the world jumps up significantly shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2002, there were only 208 terror attacks, but by 2005 that figure had jumped to 11,000. There is no public data available on the number of terror attacks in 2004.

The State Department produced 2004’s terrorism data in its Patterns of Global Terrorism report from that year, but the report came under heavy criticism from the Bush administration for showing terrorism was at a 19-year high. These findings flew in the face of the Bush administration’s assertion that terrorism had declined in 2003, and as a result the 2004 data was never released.

The Bush administration ended the State Department’s annual report on terror, and instead issued a new report, which listed no methodology and withheld statistics on incidents of terrorism. The 2004 terrorism estimates in the table below are taken from CIA figures.

RSN’s analysis of the impact of 14 years of the US War on Terror seem to verify what the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Terrorism Index found last year. That report stated, “The rise in terrorist activity coincided with the US invasion of Iraq.” The US occupation, the report continues, “created large power vacuums in the country allowing different factions to surface and become violent.”

This so-called “Iraq Effect” has been reported by British intelligence, as well as in the US government’s own reports, which stated that “the war in Iraq has become the cause célèbre for jihadists” and that the war is “shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.”

On October 7, the US war in Afghanistan will hit its 14th year. In one estimate, the US War on Terror may have killed between 1.3 and 2 million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This count doesn’t include deaths that have resulted from the drone wars in Somalia and Yemen, air strikes on Libya in 2011, and the current US bombing and military involvement in Syria.

These figures dwarf the roughly 3,000 people who tragically died in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The US invasion of Iraq destabilized Iraq and Syria, creating the conditions for the emergence of ISIS, which now controls large parts of the two countries. The invasion of Afghanistan has not been able to wrestle large sections of the country from the Taliban, leaving Afghanistan in state of perpetual war. And the air war to oust Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya in a state of chaos.

The instability caused by these wars, along with the atrocities perpetrated by US-led forces, which can be exploited for terrorist recruitment, have played a significant role in the increase of terrorism worldwide.

As we commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001, let us also reflect on the even larger tragedies, the staggering number of people who have died as a result of the US War on Terror, and the fact that the US effort has only increased the specter of terrorism, which now haunts millions around the world.

Terror attacks around the world. (photo: US State Department)

Terror attacks around the world. (photo: US State Department)

Paul Gottinger is a staff reporter at RSN whose work focuses on the Middle East and the arms industry. He can be reached on Twitter @paulgottinger or via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it “>email.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

_______________

Comment: Not “despite” but “due to”. Wars create more problems and sufferings.

 

Peace and the Ideology of Greed and Division

August 14, 2015

war costs

Cooperation, tolerance and, crucially, sharing the worlds resources equitably amongst the people of the world, these would go a long way towards establishing social justice and trust, which in turn would help facilitate peace.

We all want peace, don’t we? Peaceful relationships and communities; an absence of violence and conflict: a World at Peace. This is surely everyone’s heartfelt desire. Without peace nothing can be achieved, none of the subtler essential needs of our time, such as feeding everyone and providing good quality health care and education to all – let alone the urgent need to save our planet (S.O.P.), beautify the cities and develop sustainable alternative energy sources.

Despite the fact that we all hanker after peace, there are currently aroundthirty armed conflicts taking place across the globe – wars in which many hundreds or many thousands of innocent people are being killed. They are not on the whole conflicts between one country and another, not directly anyway, although some may be. Ideology fuels much of the fighting, as well as popular armed resistance to corporate state power, state terrorism and repression. It’s worth saying at this point, that in addition to armed conflict the ‘war’ on independent ‘free’ thinking, true democracy and the freedom of the individual is a constant one. Brutal and unrelenting, it is fought by the ‘Masters of Mankind’ (Adam Smith’s famous term for the ruling elite) against the rest of us, the 99%.

War, and armed conflict more broadly, comes about when the conditions for such are present. Remove the causes of conflict – which, we accept, may be intricate  – and, logic dictates, peace will come about. Alternatively, manipulate the conditions, distort and pervert information, create fear and suspicion and engineer conflict. Does the current socio-economic paradigm (let’s call it market fundamentalism) encourage the conditions for violent conflict and social tensions, or negate the causes of such conflict?

The Business of War

In order to engage in wars that supposedly nobody wants, weapons are developed, manufactured, energetically sold (often by heads of state on corporate trade missions) and eagerly bought. The jets and tanks, guns and drones are used to destroy and kill – – ‘the enemy’, ‘terrorists’ and those who dissent and agitate – increasingly regarded by governments as the same thing. They are used to create an atmosphere of fear in which control of the people becomes easier. These murderous gadgets add prestige and status to those states that can afford them, and show the world that they are growing’, – ‘developing’, and should be taken seriously.

In democracies the state can no longer use weapons to suppress the people and curtail independence. Here thinking is controlled using the bodies of mass propaganda – advertising, the media, consumerism, and education amongst other national armaments.

Making weapons and associated paraphernalia is big business, perhaps the biggest. In 2014 worldwide expenditure on arms, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), was US $1.7 something Trillions (about 3% of global GDP).  America is responsible for around 70% of worldwide arms sales and spends as much on the machinery of war as the rest of the developed world combined – US $610 billions (SIPRI 2014).

Why would a government spend 16% of the total US federal budget, on killing machines and supporting technology if it were working for, and wanted peace, or was concerned about addressing social injustice and poverty? After all there are estimated to be around 50 million (15%) Americans living in poverty, people, who, one would imagine, would benefit from some of these funds being pushed their way.

It is a country run by an Oligarchy dominated by Neoliberalism: it has the highest level of Income and wealth inequality of all the industrialised nations (which feeds all manner of social ills from mistrust to homicide); and; whilst its leaders self-righteously talk of peace, democracy and human rights on the world stage, it is said that since the end of World War II, America haslaunched the overwhelming majority of military operations in the world. In fact according to Scientists Citizens (referring to an article in the American Journal of Public Health), it is responsible for a staggering 201, of the 248, armed conflicts that occurred up to 2001. The renowned American documentary film-maker, Michael Moore, whose latest project ‘Where to Invade Next’ focuses on America’s warring obsession, says, there’s “this constant need it seems to always have an enemy – where’s the next enemy so we can keep this whole military industrial complex alive, and keep the companies that make a lot of money from this in business.”

The desire for peace, that we all supposedly want, runs contrary to the drive for arms sales, and the primary imperative of neo-liberalism – profit and the constant increase of a nation’s GDP figures. Nation states build armies and develop weapons in order to fight wars – to achieve what? Peace, or the extension and domination of an ideology, the raping and pillaging of another country, the justification and growth of an industry? In Capitalism A Ghost Story, Arundhati Roy asks, “do we need weapons to fight wars? Or do we need wars to create markets for weapons? ”

Ambition versus Peace

The current socio-economic system of ‘market fundamentalism’ as Indian writer P. Sainath describes it, is the suffocating paradigm of contemporary civilisation under which all of us live. It has infiltrated every area of living, has caused worldwide inequality on unprecedented levels, reduced everything, and everyone to a commodity, sees all people as consumers, all places as markets and is the poisonous hand behind the global environmental catastrophe.

Is it a model for peace? Does it facilitate peaceful co-existence and social harmony? Indeed, are such ideals even relevant within a system that is content to allow men, women and children to die of hunger in their thousands simply because they are desperately poor; where the quality of health care and education someone receives is dependent on the size of their bank balance. Financial profit is the motive driving all action flowing from its pernicious core, and all means are justified by this greedy, short sighted, short term, end.

It is the shiny, noisy face of a materialistic ideology, which dominates all areas of life, and promotes a particular set of values. False values, many of us believe, that are causing a range of destructive unhealthy, social and environmental effects.

The crudest most basic aspects of human nature are emphasised: selfishness, nationalism, individual success and personal fulfilment are all fiercely encouraged, excess championed. Divisive goals tightly knitted together and relentlessly fed by desire, which sits at the agitated centre of the whole structure; a house of cards that would collapse without the constant itch of insatiability and perpetual discontent. And can peace exist where there is discontent?

Ambition (personal and national) together with the competitive spirit is almost mandatory within the confines of such a conditioned space, and as the Indian thinker J. Krishnamurti said, an ambitious man (or woman) “is not a peaceful man, though he may talk of peace and brotherhood”. He was equally damning of competition, saying, “there can be no peace, no enduring happiness for man as long as we  – the individual, the group and the nation – accept this competitive existence as inevitable. Competitiveness, ambition, implies conflict within and without”. Ideas shared by Albert Einstein, whomaintained that the competitive spirit destroys “all feelings of human fraternity and cooperation”.

Injustice is inherent in the system – of income, wealth, influence and opportunity. It strengthens social divisions, causing tensions, both seen and suppressed and conflict within and without; facilitates concentrations of power and control and its opposite – marginalisation, exclusion and vulnerability, leading to exploitation and abuse. Is peace possible along such perverted lines of living?

Calculated Intentions

War comes about when the conditions that create conflict are present. Ideologies of all kinds, together with the divisive, selfish values that Neoliberalism promotes, encourage such conditions. Given the nature of these ideas and the range of self-interests that support them, it is hard to see how the current system can do anything other than facilitate social conflict and perpetuate war – ‘infinite war’, which Michael Moore maintains is the calculated intention, certainly of the American government.

A range of inherent tendencies exist within us all, many good, some not so positive – violence is one, tribalism and anger others. And yes, there is violence and conflict in our communities because human beings are themselves violent. But the environment in which we live can either facilitate the good, or agitate the destructive elements in human nature. With its inherent injustice, and values encouraging materiality, selfishness, nationalism and desire, the current system feeds and strengthens the negative.

Peace will come about when there is social justice, contentment and trust. All of which are the enemies of the ruling elite. All of which must be repeatedly and relentlessly called for.

Cooperation, tolerance and, crucially, sharing the worlds resources equitably amongst the people of the world, these would go a long way towards establishing social justice and trust, which in turn would help facilitate peace.  Such perennial principles of goodness need to sit at the heart of a radically reformed socio-economic model, and in place of the existing divisive ideals, true values inculcated that unite people and evoke the good.

7 decades after WWII, many praise Germany, scorn Japan

August 13, 2015

7 decades after WWII, many praise Germany, scorn JapanSouth Korean visitors walk by a statue of South Korean patriot Ahn Jung-geun, who shot down Japan’s former top official in Korea, Ito Hirobumi, in 1909, the year before occupying Tokyo formally annexed the Korean Peninsula, at Ahn Jung-geun memorial hall in Seoul, South Korea.AP Photo/Julie Yoon

SEOUL —

Both nations brutalized continents. Both slaughtered and abused tens of millions of people. But while Germany is held up as a paragon of post-World War II reconciliation, Japan is mired in animosity with its neighbors seven decades later.

In many ways, the stunning economic and political resurrections of both countries since the war ended 70 years ago Sunday have been a windfall for their respective regions. Both have largely been generous in aid, both, for the most part, sterling examples of liberal democracies.

But talk to Europeans and Northeast Asians about Germany and Japan and you’ll often find stark differences in perception.

Some of this is linked to the Soviet threat during the Cold War, which forced Europe to work closely with powerful West Germany. No such unifying force emerged in ultracompetitive Northeast Asia.

A kneeling former West German chancellor is a European icon of reconciliation, but China and the two Koreas see Japan as having continually gotten a free pass.

Protected by U.S. forces interested in establishing a regional military bulkhead, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, the public face of the troops who ravaged Asia, was never held accountable. Nor were many suspected war criminals, including the grandfather of current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. There’s also criticism that frequent whitewashing of history by senior Japanese leaders, including Abe, nullifies Tokyo’s repeated attempts to display remorse.

The perceived injustice of history still rankles, and leaders in Seoul and Beijing use the resulting nationalism to cement domestic support and pursue territorial goals.

Here’s a country-by-country look at the very different ways Japan and Germany are viewed in parts of Asia and Europe today:

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SOUTH KOREA

Perhaps the crystallization of abysmal Japan-South Korea ties can be found in the widespread veneration of Ahn Jung-geun, who shot down Japan’s former top official in Korea, Ito Hirobumi, in 1909, the year before occupying Tokyo formally annexed the Korean Peninsula.

A young, mustachioed Ahn, cradling a hand disfigured when he sliced off part of a finger as an expression of patriotism, can be seen on banners and posters throughout Seoul. A musical about Ahn’s life, called “Hero,” has been staged every year since 2009. A sleek museum tells Ahn’s life story, culminating with a lifelike diorama that shows Ahn aiming his pistol at a mortally wounded Ito.

Throughout South Korea, there is what Robert Kelly, a professor at Pusan National University, calls an “extraordinary, and negative, fixation with Japan.”

People in both countries admire the other’s culture and recognize shared security concerns, especially about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

But the Japanese colonization — which was followed by division in 1945 by the Soviets and the Americans and the 1950-53 Korean War that technically continues today — still rankles because “Japan was essentially trying to eliminate Korean-ness,” said John Delury, a professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University.

“Japan will never be another Germany,” said Doowon Heo, a 36-year-old teacher from Siheung, South Korea, referring to the postwar German reconciliation efforts. “The number of people who have personally experienced the colonial era will continue to decline, but Japan continues to refresh our memory about what it was like then.”

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POLAND

Poland, where the European war started when Germany invaded on Sept 1, 1939, is the site of one of the most powerful and unexpected gestures of German remorse.

A monument in the former Warsaw Ghetto marks the day Willy Brandt, the former West German chancellor, fell to his knees there in 1970.

Brandt received the Nobel Peace Prize the next year, with officials citing his kneeling at the Jewish site in Warsaw as an example of his work “to bury hatred and seek reconciliation across the mass graves of the war.”

Such efforts by Germany have been a consistent feature of its policies toward Poland, which suffered 6 million deaths during the war, half of them Jewish.

Since the fall of communism in Europe, Germany has strongly backed Poland’s efforts to join both the European Union and NATO, steps that have helped bring unprecedented prosperity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s backing was seen as critical in the election last year of former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to head the European Council in Brussels, the first time a Pole has won a top leadership position within the European Union.

Trade flows across the neighbors’ borders, students take part in exchange programs, and most young Poles and Germans have largely overcome past grievances.

Some older Poles, however, have mixed feelings.

“Once, in a restaurant in Bonn, the owner, who was in his late 30s, came up to a group of me and other Poles and said, ‘I am so sorry we did such horrible things, please forgive us,’” said Pawel Kuczynski, a 60-year-old documentary filmmaker. “But I only experienced this once. Mostly in my dealings with Germans, I get the feeling that they still look down upon us.”

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CHINA

On a recent overcast day, a smattering of Chinese tourists walked across the Marco Polo bridge in southwestern Beijing, which some see as the site of the first true battle of World War II.

Japan’s Imperial Army occupied Manchuria in the early 1930s, but on July 7, 1937, after a Japanese soldier went missing in the area, thousands of troops on both sides marched in the region. Fighting and atrocities soon followed, including the rape of Nanjing by the Japanese.

China keeps the memory of Japanese subjugation and brutality raw through its education system and popular culture. Television shows regularly depict virtuous Chinese soldiers outsmarting villainous Japanese.

Anti-Japanese sentiment is also easily channeled into support for China’s assertive claims to uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

“There is always going to be a certain amount of loathing for the Japanese,” said Cao Yongzheng, a 62-year-old office manager from Jiangsu province in eastern China. “We’ll buy their products, but we don’t like them. It’s important that young people come to these places to remember.”

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THE NETHERLANDS

Despite their grim shared wartime history, Germany and the Netherlands are now strong allies in NATO and the European Union, and are tied closely together economically.

But memories of the just over 100,000 Jewish men, women and children rounded up by the Nazis in the Netherlands and sent to their deaths are kept alive in a small annex hidden by a bookcase in a canal-side house in Amsterdam.

This is where Anne Frank lived for more than two years starting in 1942, writing her now famous diary about life in hiding from the Nazis who occupied the Netherlands for much of the war.

For years, the home where Anne hid stood empty, run down and in danger of demolition. Eventually, a foundation took over and transformed it into a museum honoring Anne, who died in a concentration camp.

The museum is now visited by more than 1 million people each year.

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INDONESIA

Japan occupied much of Southeast Asia during World War II, but its legacy is much different in China and the Koreas. Its 3 1/2-year occupation of Indonesia, at the time a Dutch colony, added momentum to a burgeoning independence movement.

One of the few reminders of Japan’s wartime presence in Indonesia is the former residence in Jakarta of Rear Adm. Maeda Tadashi, who helped draft Indonesia’s first independence proclamation. The building is now a museum dedicated to the history of independence.

The Japanese portrayed their occupation of Indonesia as the intervention of a benevolent older brother and were initially welcomed as liberators from the despised Dutch.

Japan, attempting to persuade Indonesians to join the war, gave them roles in government for the first time and steps toward self-administration.

Brutality increased in the twilight of the occupation, but resentment among Indonesians against Japan is rare today.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

W. E. B. Du Bois to Malcolm X: The Untold History of the Movement to Ban the Bomb

August 4, 2015
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Coretta Scott King (R) with Women Strike for Peace founder Dagmar Wilson (L) in a march on the United Nations Plaza, New York City, Nov. 1, 1963. (Image: Bettmann/CORBIS)

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. announced his strong opposition to the war in Vietnam, the media attacked him for straying outside of his civil rights mandate. In so many words, powerful interests told him: “Mind your own business.” In fact, African American leaders have long been concerned with broad issues of peace and justice—and have especially opposed nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this activism is left out of mainstream corporate-produced history textbooks.

On June 6, 1964, three Japanese writers and a group of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) arrived in Harlem as part of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki World Peace Study Mission. Their mission: to speak out against nuclear proliferation.

Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese American activist, organized a reception for the hibakusha at her home in the Harlem Manhattanville Housing Projects, with her friend Malcolm X. Malcolm said, “You have been scarred by the atom bomb. You just saw that we have also been scarred. The bomb that hit us was racism.” He went on to discuss his years in prison, education, and Asian history. Turning to Vietnam, Malcolm said, “If America sends troops to Vietnam, you progressives should protest.” He argued that “the struggle of Vietnam is the struggle of the whole Third World: the struggle against colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism.” Malcolm X, like so many before him, consistently connected colonialism, peace, and the Black freedom struggle. Yet, students have rarely heard this story.

With the recent developments in Charleston surrounding the Confederate flag, there is a renewed focus on what should be included in U.S. history textbooks and who should determine the content. Focusing on African American history, too often textbooks reduce the Black freedom movement to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. Rosa Parks and Dr. King are put in their neat categorical boxes and students are never taught the Black freedom struggle’s international dimensions, viewing slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement as purely domestic phenomena unrelated to foreign affairs. However, Malcolm X joined a long list of African Americans who, from 1945 onward, actively supported nuclear disarmament. W. E. B. Du Bois, Bayard Rustin, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Black Panther Party were just a few of the many African Americans who combined civil rights with peace, and thus broadened the Black freedom movement and helped define it in terms of global human rights.

If students learn about Du Bois at all, it is usually that he helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) or that he received a PhD from Harvard. However, a few weeks after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Du Bois likened President Truman to Adolph Hitler, calling him “one of the greatest killers of our day.” He had traveled to Japan and consistently criticized the use of nuclear weapons. In the 1950s, fearing another Hiroshima in Korea, Du Bois led the effort in the Black community to eliminate nuclear weapons with the “Ban the Bomb” petition. Many students go through their entire academic careers and learn nothing of Du Bois’ work in the international arena.

If students ever hear the name Bayard Rustin, it is usually related to his work with theMarch on Washington. He has been tragically marginalized in U.S. history textbooks, in large part because of his homosexuality. However, Rustin’s body of work in civil rights and peace activism dates back to the 1930s. In 1959, during the Civil Rights Movement, Rustin not only fought institutional racism in the United States, but also traveled to Ghana to try to prevent France from testing its first nuclear weapon in Africa.

These days, some textbooks acknowledge Dr. King’s critique of the Vietnam War. However, King’s actions against nuclear weapons began a full decade earlier in the late 1950s. From 1957 until his death, through speeches, sermons, interviews, and marches, King consistently protested the use of nuclear weapons and war. King called for an end to nuclear testing asking, “What will be the ultimate value of having established social justice in a context where all people, Negro and White, are merely free to face destruction by Strontium-90 or atomic war?” Following the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, King called on the government to take some of the billions of dollars spent on nuclear weapons and use those funds to increase teachers’ salaries and build much needed schools in impoverished communities. Two years later, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, King argued the spiritual and moral lag in our society was due to three problems: racial injustice, poverty, and war. He warned that in the nuclear age, society must eliminate racism or risk annihilation.

Dr. King’s wife largely inspired his antinuclear stance. Coretta Scott King began her activism as a student at Antioch College. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, King worked with various peace organizations, and along with a group of female activists, began pressuring President Kennedy for a nuclear test ban. In 1962, Coretta King served as a delegate for Women Strike for Peace at a disarmament conference in Geneva that was part of a worldwide effort to push for a nuclear test ban treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. Upon her return, King spoke at AME church in Chicago, saying: “We are on the brink of destroying ourselves through nuclear warfare . . . . The Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement must work together ultimately because peace and civil rights are part of the same problem.”

Soon, we will commemorate the 70th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not long after comes the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Students will then return to school and to their history textbooks. However, most will not learn how these issues are connected. They will not learn of all those in the Civil Rights Movement who simultaneously fought for peace. But this must change, and soon. The scarring of war and poverty and racism that Malcolm X spoke of continues. It’s time that students learn about the long history of activism that has challenged these deadly triplets.

Vincent J. Intondi is an associate professor of history at Montgomery College and director of research for American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute. He is the author ofAfrican Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement (Stanford University Press, 2015).

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