"Iraq Has WMDs!" and "Russia Has Invaded!"

David Swanson

"All this was inspired by the principle -- which is quite true within itself -- that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods." — Adolf Hitler

How did they imagine they'd get away with it, claiming that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and even nuclear weapons?

Defectors had made clear the chemical and biological weapons (some of them provided by the United States) had been destroyed. Inspectors had searched almost every inch of Iraq and said they'd get to the last few inches if given a few more days. Iraq was screaming that it had no such weapons. Numerous nations around the world were agreeing with Iraq. Colin Powell's own staff warned him that his claims would not be deemed plausible. And yet...


The Genius of Erasmus

David Swanson

Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, who lived from October 27, 1466, to July 12, 1536, faced censorship in his day, and has never been as popular among the rich and powerful as has his contemporary Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli. But at a distance of half a millennium, we ought to be able to judge work on its merit — and we ought to have regular celebrations of Erasmus around the world. Some of his ideas are catching on. His name is familiar in Europe as that of the EU’s student exchange program, named in his honor. We ought perhaps to wonder what oddball ideas these days might catch on in the 2500s — if humanity is around then.

In 1517, Erasmus wrote The Complaint of Peace, in which Peace, speaking in the first-person, complains about how humanity treats her. She claims to offer “the source of all human blessings” and to be scorned by people who “go in quest of evils infinite in number.”

The Complaint is not a contemporary twenty-first century piece of thinking; its outdatedness in any number of areas is immediately obvious. But that’s to be expected in an essay written 500 years ago in Latin for a readership made up of what we would call creationists, astrologers, monarchists, and Eurocentric bigots.

What ought to amaze us is the extent to which the Complaint does address the same troubles we face today and the same bad arguments used today in defense of wars. The Complaint offers rebuttals to such arguments that have never been surpassed. Its text could serve as the basis for dozens of important sermons were some preacher inclined to favor peace on earth.

Peace, in her Complaint to us, begins by imagining that humans must be insane to pursue war instead of her. She does not complain out of indignation, but weeps over people who actively bring so much harm on themselves and are incapable of even realizing it. The first step, Erasmus/Peace says, is recognizing that you have a problem. Or rather, “It is one great step to convalescence to know the extent and inveteracy of a disease.”


Operation Nazification

David Swanson

Annie Jacobsen's new book is called Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America. It isn't terribly secret anymore, of course, and it was never very intelligent. Jacobsen has added some details, and the U.S. government is still hiding many more. But the basic facts have been available; they're just left out of most U.S. history books, movies, and television programs.

After World War II, the U.S. military hired sixteen hundred former Nazi scientists and doctors, including some of Adolf Hitler's closest collaborators, including men responsible for murder, slavery, and human experimentation, including men convicted of war crimes, men acquitted of war crimes, and men who never stood trial. Some of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg had already been working for the U.S. in either Germany or the U.S. prior to the trials. Some were protected from their past by the U.S. government for years, as they lived and worked in Boston Harbor, Long Island, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and elsewhere, or were flown by the U.S. government to Argentina to protect them from prosecution. Some trial transcripts were classified in their entirety to avoid exposing the pasts of important U.S. scientists. Some of the Nazis brought over were frauds who had passed themselves off as scientists, some of whom subsequently learned their fields while working for the U.S. military.


Ending One War, Ending All Wars

David Swanson

Remarks on September 21, 2013, at the Nashville Festival for Peace, Prosperity, and Planet.

Thank you to Elizabeth Barger and the Nashville Peace and Justice Center and to all of you, and happy International Day of Peace!

From a certain angle it doesn't look like a happy day of peace. The U.S. government is engaged in a major war in Afghanistan, dramatically escalated by the current U.S. president, who has been bizarrely given credit for ending it for so long now that a lot of people imagine it is ended. The same president goes through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays, picks which ones to have murdered, and has them murdered, often with missiles shot out of unmanned drones, drones that circle people's villages endlessly threatening immediate annihilation moment after moment for weeks on end, missiles that often miss their targets and often kill random people too close to their targets. The CIA with war powers. Secret military operations in dozens of nations. Expansion of U.S. troop presence in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Some 90 percent of the world's nations with U.S. troops in them. Prisoners force-fed in Guantanamo. Black sites. Iraq ruined without reparations. Libya thrown into anarchy without apology. Activists treated as enemies. Journalists treated as spies. Whistleblowers locked up in cages. Our Constitutional rights treated as dispensable. The United Nations used, abused, and circumvented. U.S. weapons provided to dictatorships and democracies around the globe. Tennessee's U.S. Senator Bob Corker going on television repeatedly for weeks to tell us that the United States is covertly aiding one side of a war in Syria. Does he not know what "covertly" means, or does he not know how television works?


The Supposed Legality of Murder

David Swanson


Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) activists hold up placards as
they gather for a party rally in Peshawar on April 2011. U.S. carried
out its first drone attack in Pakistan since [the alleged death of OBL]
in an American raid, killing 10 people in a hail of missiles near the
Afghan border.
(Photo: Majeed/AFP/Getty. Caption: ABC News)

'War is legal,' but pointing out its illegality is not mistaken; it's irrelevant and un-strategic. That's the argument I'm hearing from a number of quarters.

Chase Madar has a terrific new book on Bradley Manning in which he argues that many of the offenses Bradley Manning allegedly revealed through Wikileaks (the murder in the collateral murder video, the turning over of prisoners to be tortured by Iraq, etc.) are immoral but legal. When I pointed out to Madar that the Kellogg Briand Pact banned all war, that the U.N. Charter legalized only two narrow categories of war that our government does not meet (defensive wars and wars authorized by the U.N.), and that the Constitution of the United States bans wars not declared by Congress, Madar did not try to argue that I was mistaken. Instead he said it wasn't important to point out war's illegality, because Americans don't care; instead we have to point out its immorality. But if war's illegality is unimportant, why was its supposed legality important enough to develop as a significant part of a book? Why couldn't war's illegality be of help in the movement to oppose it on primarily moral grounds?

I attended a wonderful event on Saturday in Washington, D.C., a "Drone Summit" organized by Code Pink, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Reprieve -- terrific organizations all, some of the best. Included in the summit were speakers from organizations that have concerns about drones but do not oppose war. It's important to work with organizations and individuals who agree on the matter at hand, even if broad differences in world view divide you. I give great credit to every ban-the-drones or reform-the-drones organization that supports war or avoids the topic of war, yet works in coalition with antiwar groups. More credit and gratitude to them.

But many more people than attend one event in one city have these questions running through their minds, and the differences in viewpoint within the anti-drone movement may be helpful in forming one's own view.


The Military: Closer to You Than Your Family

David Swanson

"Our current unpopular but unending wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia, and our smaller military operations in over 100 other countries are part of what President Eisenhower warned of 50 years ago in speaking of the military industrial complex. No nation has tried anything like this before, and it's not clear we can survive it."

USA 12 August 2011. Two blocks from my house in a nondescript little building on the edge of our residential neighborhood is an office with a small sign reading "DVBIC of Charlottesville" which turns out to mean "Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center."

Now, I'm in favor of caring for people with brain injuries. Heck, I wish we had universal comprehensive health coverage like other countries do. But it disturbs me how difficult it is in this country to get any distance away from the military. It's almost certainly closer to you than your relatives' homes.

What author Nick Turse calls the military industrial technological entertainment academic media corporate matrix is even closer than that. I am typing this on an Apple computer, and Apple is a major Pentagon contractor. But then, so is IBM. And so are most of the parent companies of most of the retail chains around the country. Starbucks is a major military supplier, with a store even in Guantanamo. Not only are traditional weapons manufacturers' offices now found alongside car dealers and burger joints in suburban strip malls, but the car dealers and burger joints are owned by companies taking in huge amounts of Pentagon spending. A $4,311 contract back in 2006 went straight to Charlottesville's Pig Daddy's BBQ.

Almost no neighborhoods lack members of the military and military supporters, Marine Corps flags and Army bumper stickers. If you wanted to get away from it, where would you go? (Please don't shout "Leave the country!" The U.S. military has troops in the majority of the nations on earth.) When one family tried to get away from jet noise in Virginia Beach by moving to a rural farm, the military quickly opened a new base right next to them. There is no escape.


War – The Fiscal Stimulus of Last Resort

Ellen Brown

War! Good God, ya’ll. What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’!

So went the anti-Vietnam War protest song popularized by Edwin Starr in 1970 and revived by Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s.

The song echoed popular sentiment. The Vietnam War ended. Then the Cold War ended. Yet military spending remains the government’s number one expenditure. When veterans’ benefits and other past military costs are factored in, half the government’s budget now goes to the military/industrial complex.

After 9/11, the pop hit “War” was placed on the list of post-9/11 inappropriate titles distributed by Clear Channel.

Protesters have been trying to stop the military juggernaut ever since the end of World War II, yet the war machine is more powerful and influential than ever. Why? The veiled powers pulling the strings no doubt have their own dark agenda, but why has our much-trumpeted system of political democracy not been able to stop them?

The answer may involve our individualistic, laissez-faire brand of capitalism, which forbids the government to compete with private business except in cases of “national emergency.” The problem is that private business needs the government to get money into people’s pockets and stimulate demand. The process has to start somewhere, and government has the tools to do it. But in our culture, any hint of “socialism” is anathema. The result has been a state of “national emergency” has had to be declared virtually all of the time, just to get the government’s money into the economy.

Other avenues being blocked, the productive civilian economy has been systematically sucked into the non-productive military sector, until war is now our number one export. War is where the money is and where the jobs are. The United States has been turned into a permanent war economy and military state.


An evil killer: Truman Lied, Hundreds of Thousands Died

David Swanson

On August 6, 1945, President Harry S Truman announced:

"Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British 'Grand Slam' which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare."

When Truman lied to America that Hiroshima was a military base rather than a city full of civilians, people no doubt wanted to believe him. Who would want the shame of belonging to the nation that commits a whole new kind of atrocity? (Will naming lower Manhattan "ground zero" erase the guilt?) And when we learned the truth, we wanted and still want desperately to believe that war is peace, that violence is salvation, that our government dropped nuclear bombs in order to save lives, or at least to save American lives.

We tell each other that the bombs shortened the war and saved more lives than the some 200,000 they took away. And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace." Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to "dictate the terms of ending the war." Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was "most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in." Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and "Fini Japs when that comes about." Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.


Obama's Libya Defense Makes Bush's Lawyers Look Smart

David Swanson
War Is A Crime

The arguments made to "legalize" war, torture, warrantless spying, and other crimes by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and their gang are looking rational, well-reasoned, and impeccably researched in comparison with Obama's latest "legalization" of the Libya War.

Here's the key section from Wednesday's report to Congress:

"Given the important U.S. interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the President had constitutional authority, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad. The President is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the Resolution's 60 day termination provision. U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo. U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."

Whatever the president's "foreign affairs powers" may be, they do not, under the U.S. Constitution, include the power to launch "military operations" or "hostilities" or "wars." Nor has the distinction between "military operations" that involve what ordinary humans call warfare (blowing up buildings with missiles) and "hostilities" that qualify for regulation under the War Powers Resolution been previously established. This distinction is as crazy as any that have come out of U.S. government lawyers in the past.


Afghanistan: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Democracy, Protection of Civilians, and Opium…Pretexts for War

Bruce G. Richardson
Dawat Independent Media Center (DIMC)

Tora Bora: For some time, rumors continue to circulate that Osama bin Laden has passed-away due to organ failure during December of 2010. Witnesses have since come forth to report and attest to the fact that they had attended his funeral. Though difficult to corroborate, Osama bin Laden’s medical history suggests a very strong possibility that he has indeed passed on, an event which would render U.S. justification for war, null and void.

Thanks to an obsessive and biased media, who function as the title of a new book suggests, as The Piano Player in the Brothel, and combined with a majority of ill-informed, anti-Islamic Members of Congress; bin Laden has heretofore been cast as a religious zealot and threat to the continued existence of a Christian, democratic world. As the alleged mastermind and architect of the September 11, 2001 attack on America, Osama bin Laden has surfaced as America’s primary justification for war on Afghanistan.

The world has long been aware of bin Laden’s critical, life-threatening kidney disease, disease that requires ongoing, daily organ-dialysis therapy to sustain life. The problems inherent in dialysis are legion: Infection as a result of an unsustainable, bacteria-free treatment environment, are just two of a multitude of problems that may be encountered by attending physicians. The United States Government contends that Osama bin Laden is in hiding in the rugged, mountainous regions of Paktia Province. Yet on examination, the logistical problems inherent in providing such a high degree of medical sophistication and technology required for this treatment in a hostile and mountainous locale, render such statements as self-serving and suspect. If this rendition were indeed factual, where and how would attending medical personnel, transport heavy, fragile equipment into the mountains, create a bacteria-free environment, safe from an armada consisting of an American ground and air posse in hot pursuit, and then have the capability to generate an uninterrupted electrical power source critically necessary for the dialysis equipment to perform properly? The improbability if not impossibility of such a logistical nightmare is mind numbing. When faced with the facts, the U.S. Government’s rendition of events that justifies and led to a war against a people that posed no threat to the country and played absolutely no role in 9/11, defies credibility and logic.


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