Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Bernie Sanders Calls for ‘War Tax’ on Millionaires

March 23, 2015

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

By Rebecca Shabad, The Hill

21 March 15

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

March 9, 2015
OpEdNews Op Eds 3/9/2015 at 09:47:29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 Key That Is the Saudi Kingdom

February 6, 2015

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

Enjoy:

The Key That Is the Saudi Kingdom

Addiction Is Not Addictive

It’s the Blind Partisanship

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

Born at War

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

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

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

When Veterans Try to End Wars

Exporting Sherman’s March

Reports from Cuba coming soon!

Events:

February 7 in Munich: No Peace With NATO

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

February 21 in Maryland: The Real Story Behind ISIS

February 21 in Charlottesville VA: Lee Camp and David Swanson

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

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

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

March 18-21 in Washington DC: Spring Rising

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

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

March 28 in Glasgow, Scotland: #TridentHastoGoNow demonstration

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

April 11 Michigan – David Swanson speaking

April 13 in Scotland: #BairnsNotBOMBS Big Blockade

April 13, Global Day of Action Against Military Spending

April 15, March for the Homeless

April 22, March from EPA to Pentagon

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

April 25 Houston – David Swanson speaking

April 27-29 at the Hague: WILPF Turns 100

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

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

May 19 in Linz, Austria: Nuclear Energy Conference 2015

May 24 in Korea: Women’s March for Peace

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

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

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

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

August 27 Chicago – David Swanson speaking

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

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

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

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David Swanson: “War is So 2014!”

January 4, 2015
Life Arts 1/3/2015 at 19:58:13

By Joan Brunwasser (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 3 pages)
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My guest is David Swanson, blogger, author, peace activist and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Welcome back to OpEdNews, David. You wrote a recent piece, Renaming Afghan War, Renaming Murder . Is that hyperbole or is this war really being renamed?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

December 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chart by AJ Vicens.

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

December 22, 2014

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

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

21 December 14

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cheney: President George W. Bush ‘Knew Everything’ About CIA Interrogation

December 12, 2014

(photo: unknown)
(photo: unknown)

By BBC News

11 December 14

 

ormer US President George W Bush was “fully informed” about CIA interrogation techniques condemned in a Senate report, his vice-president says.

Speaking to Fox News, Dick Cheney said Mr Bush “knew everything he needed to know” about the programme, and the report was “full of crap”.

The CIA has defended its use of methods such as waterboarding on terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

The Senate report said the agency misled politicians about the programme.

But the former Republican vice-president dismissed this, saying: “The notion that the committee is trying to peddle that somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis and that we weren’t being told – that the president wasn’t being told – is a flat-out lie.”

In the interview on Thursday, Mr Cheney said the report was “deeply flawed” and a “terrible piece of work”, although he admitted he had not read the whole document.

President Bush “knew everything he needed to know, and wanted to know” about CIA interrogation, he said. “He knew the techniques… there was no effort on my part to keep it from him.

“He was fully informed.”

The story of the report – in numbers

Mr Bush led the charge against the report ahead of its release on Tuesday, defending the CIA on US TV.

“We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf,” he told CNN on Sunday.

A summary of the larger classified report says that the CIA carried out “brutal” and “ineffective” interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US and misled other officials about what it was doing.

The information the CIA collected using “enhanced interrogation techniques” failed to secure information that foiled any threats, the report said.

But Mr Cheney said the interrogation programme saved lives, and that the agency deserved “credit not condemnation”.

“It did in fact produce actionable intelligence that was vital in the success of keeping the country safe from further attacks,” he said.

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel speaks to report author Dianne Feinstein

The UN and human rights groups have called for the prosecution of US officials involved in the 2001-2007 programme.

“As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said in a statement made from Geneva.

He said there had been a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level”.

The chances of prosecuting members of the Bush administration are unlikely, not least because the US justice department has said that it has already pursued two investigations into mistreatment of detainees since 2000 and concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to obtain a conviction.

On Wednesday, an unnamed justice department official told the Los Angeles Times prosecutors had read the report and “did not find any new information” to reopen the investigation.

 

Egged on by the Hawks of Doom, Obama sinks America into a misguided war with the Islamic State

December 12, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 12/11/2014 at 13:07:31

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Call me a starry-eyed idealist, but it seems to me that if you’re going to send Americans to war, you ought to be clear on certain basics–such as the location of the battlefield.[tag]

From flickr.com/photos/25822015@N05/2442311637/: Geometria e Islam
Geometria e Islam
(image by Trellina)

However, in a Sept. 10 media briefing on President Obama’s plan for a new war in Iraq, Syria, and who-knows-where-else, a “senior administration official” failed this elemental lesson of WAR 101. The expert was briefing reporters about the coalition of nations that Obama was assembling to “degrade and destroy” the barbaric band of terrorists that exploded out of Syria this summer (who’ve grandiosely labeled themselves the “Islamic State”). Especially important, noted the official, was Saudi Arabia’s decision to join the coalition–after all, he explained, the Saudi monarchy views the bloodthirsty sect as an imminent threat to it, for “Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria.”

Uh… no. Far from “extensive,” the two share no border. In fact they are miles from each other, separated by Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. Perhaps that’s one senior advisor who could be replaced by a good Rand McNally.

Nevertheless–Hi-ho, Hi-ho/It’s off to war we go! Obama, egged on by the usual flock of squawking hawks, is committing us to another Middle-East misadventure–and figuring out the map will be the least of America’s problems. The warmongers are pushing our nation into the sticky web of a centuries-old religious conflagration that (1) we don’t understand, (2) we cannot resolve, (3) presents no clear threat to our national security, (4) involves us with a motley crew of “allies,” (5) offers no moral high ground, (6) positions us as destroyers (or worse, crusaders), (7) is creating a whole new generation of young Muslim enemies for us, (8) has no timetable or definition of “victory,” (9) has not been explained, publicly debated, or congressionally authorized, and (10) will further drain our treasury, strain our military, and divert our people and resources from achieving America’s own, long-delayed, democratic potential.

Other than that, the launching of what officials tell us will be a “long war” against the fanatical Islamic State (IS) makes perfectly good sense.

If the decision to fling our weary soldiers, depleted coffers, and tarnished international reputation into the Mideast’s religious inferno had been made by Bush-Cheney (or, let’s say, a Trump-Cruz administration), progressives and other voices of sanity would howl with rage. Well, we should not be any less enraged merely because a Democrat is at the front of such a fool’s errand. Nor can we suspend rational thought just because we are rightly repulsed by the raw, utterly incomprehensible evil being committed by the IS, a theocratic horde that revels in the gore of beheadings, crucifixions, and massacres.

What are we getting into?FIRST, it is a war–not a “conflict” or a “military action,” but a real war that will require enormous commitments of American money, time, weaponry, and lives. “Rooting out a cancer like this won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick,” Obama conceded in August as he committed us to this vague, open-ended, half-baked escapade. Again the stated goal is not merely to contain the mobile, internet-savvy, highly capable pack of some 31,000 murderous ideologues, but to “destroy” it. That includes, as Obama has indicated, not just military assaults, but also addressing the entrenched poverty, lack of education, kleptocratic governments, and sense of hopelessness that created the furious rise of this terrorist army and constantly feeds angry young recruits into it.

Is all this our job?If so, be prepared to pay. Gordon Adams, a military spending expert at American University, says that his “back-of-the-envelope” calculation of dollars that will be spent to sustain our military in just Year One of this Islamic State war is about $15 billion. That does not count such subsequent multipliers of military expenditures as long-term veterans’ health care and interest payments on the debt (yes, debt–once again, as in Afghanistan and Bush’s previous Iraq war, this one will be charged on the nation’s credit card and billed to our grandchildren).

SECOND, this is a Mideastern religious war, not one of national aggression, nor one that poses any imminent threat to the USA. It is a “jihad,” (a holy war that calls Muslims to join as a sacred duty), and it stems from a puritanical revivalist movement of Sunni Muslim extremists who believe they are in a death struggle “over the soul of Islam.”

The so-called Islamic State is not a state, but more of a state of mind, with the IS laying claim to all Muslims of the ancient “Levant,” sweeping from Israel into Southern Turkey. And it is “Islamic” in name only, dishonoring most of the positive religious and civic ideals set forth by Muhammad, the seventh-century Arab prophet who founded Islam. Also known by the acronyms ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (Islamic State in Levant), the group claims to be a holy movement of the pure Islam, but it functions as a cult of pure sadism, using brutal wholesale violence not as a means to some spiritual end, but as an end in itself.

The IS is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a megalomaniac Iraqi Sunni who surprised everyone in June by anointing himself ruler of all Muslims everywhere. For us Westerners, he and the IS seem to have come out of nowhere, but, both have evolved from previous Sunni terrorist groups that arose after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and both trace their ruthless creed directly to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, an 18th century radical proselytizer of a severe form of Sunni Islam. Today’s IS is taking Wahhab’s extreme fundamentalism to an ultra-extremist, belligerent ideology that one Islamic scholar calls “untamed Wahhabism.”

While they despise Western culture as the spawn of Satan and fulminate against the long, sorrowful history of Western subjugation of Islamic peoples, the West is not the primary target of their vengeful fury. That honor goes to two particular groups of Muslims: (1) the Shia (or Shiites), who differ with Sunnis on whose original leader is the legitimate successor to Muhammad and, therefore, are considered by the IS as abominable heretics who must be exterminated for the sake of “purifying the community of the faithful”; and (2) moderate Sunnis, who are viewed as apostates for having rejected unadulterated Wahhabism to accept such modern Islamic norms as the education of girls, tolerance of other religions, and acceptance of non-theocratic Islamic governments.

THIRD, it is not our war. Yes, we are nauseated, maddened, and frightened to see YouTube videos of fanatics beheading US journalists and others. But what we have here is a regional Islamic war, pitting a vicious IS minority against mainstream Islamic people, governments, and armies.

Those mainstream forces are the ones to unite, stand up, and lead the battle. Western nations certainly must support such a concerted military, economic, and cultural campaign to de-fang IS, but it is ridiculous (and self-defeating) for the US strut into the chaotic center of a Muslim war and lead the charge.

Saudi WahhabiaWhere the hell is the richest, most powerful force in the region, Saudi Arabia? Shhhh… King Abdullah and assorted princes of the royal Saud family are hunkered down in their opulent palaces, quietly praying that we American dupes don’t learn that the duty of leadership in this war (and on the larger need to address the region’s massive social/economic/political inequities fueling the IS upsurge) belongs to them–not us.

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Jim Hightower is an American populist, spreading his message of democratic hope via national radio commentaries, columns, books, his award-winning monthly newsletter (The Hightower Lowdown) and barnstorming tours all across America.

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New Book: Killing Is Not a Way of Life

December 10, 2014

Killing Is Not a Way of Life

Here’s my brand new book, just in time to give it to someone you love:

Book’s website.

Read the Table of Contents

Read the Introduction.

Read Past Praise of the Author.

Read an interview about this book at Crooks and Liars here.

Buy this book at your local bookstore. It’s distributed by Ingram with ISBN # 978-0-9830830-6-1.

Or buy it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Powell’s. Note: If you prefer to buy the book on a site that says it is available right away, buy it from Barnes and Noble. Because the book is brand new, Amazon and Powell’s say it is not available immediately. This is not true. Orders will be filled immediately.

Buy the PDF version here.

Or buy the book at a big discount straight from my site when you buy five or more.

OTHER GOODIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

War No More: The Case for Abolition (2013) — with a foreword by Kathy Kelly.

When the World Outlawed War (2011) — named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read. A forgotten story from the 1920s of how people created a treaty to ban all war — a treaty still on the books but not remembered.

War Is A Lie (2010) — widely praised best-selling classic. “There are three insightful books I’ve read that explain how and why no good can come of the current U.S. reliance on military force and war in seeking its desired ‘Pax Americana': War Is A Racket by General Smedley Butler; War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges, and War Is A Lie by David Swanson.” — Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent, whistleblower, and Time magazine person of the year.

Iraq War Among World’s Worst Events (2013) — At 10 years since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation (to use the original name with the appropriate acronym, OIL) and over 22 years since Operation Desert Storm, there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq, or of how these actions compare to other horrors of world history.

Tube World (2012) — This children’s book has received an enthusiastic initial response.

The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012) — the most comprehensive collection available explaining what the military industrial complex is, where it comes from, what damage it does, what further destruction it threatens, and what can be done and is being done to chart a different course.

Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union (2009) — “There have now been many books written which chronicle the imperial, lawless presidency of the Bush era, but Swanson’s superb new book — Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union — is one of the very few to examine how we can recover from it and reverse its pernicious trends.” –Glenn Greenwald

The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush (2008) — Now more than ever.

SHIRTS AND OTHER ITEMS HERE.

Happy Holidays!

Sign up for these emails at http://davidswanson.org/signup.

We Must Always Have War Because Magic

November 9, 2014
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This advertisement for permanent war appeared in my local newspaper today.By pointing out this fact I am neither opposing working with religious groups that favor peace nor asserting that Martin Luther King Jr. was a warmonger.

But religious peace activists could, as far as anyone can tell, be peace activists without the religion.

This advertisement could NOT promote war without religion. Its entire basis for promoting war is religion, for which no substitute is imaginable.

Exactly like an argument for abolition of war, the ad begins by asking why we should engage in so much killing and destruction at such great expense, while other crises cry out for our attention.

Why? Because magic.

An ancient book says there must be war. And that settles it.

The same book says there must be mass murder of innocents and babies, slavery, death by stoning, cannibalism, and all sorts of other horrors.

Clearly one can attribute magical powers to that book and choose to ignore selected parts that our culture has outgrown.

Why not the part about war?

Because we have a culture of war, and religious support for it is only one part. But it’s a part we can set aside if we choose to, in a process of learning to think more critically. And that could have far-reaching results.

Imagine all the people living life in peace.

 

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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