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National Public Radio on Wednesday discovered that a woman named Lisa Simeone who produced a show about opera called "World of Opera" had been participating in a nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., organized by October2011.org. That same day, NPR persuaded a company for which Simeone worked to fire her, cutting her income in half and purging from the so-called public airwaves a voice that had never mentioned politics on NPR.
This frantic email was sent to all NPR staff:
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 6:12 PM
Subject: From Dana Rehm: Communications Alert
To: All Staff
Fr: Dana Davis Rehm
Re: Communications Alert
We recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone’s participation in an Occupy DC group. World of Opera is produced by WDAV, a music and arts station based in Davidson, North Carolina. The program is distributed by NPR. Lisa is not an employee of WDAV or NPR; she is a freelancer with the station.
We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously.
As a reminder, all public comment (including social media) on this matter is being managed by NPR Communications.
All media requests should be routed through NPR Communications at 202.513.2300 or email@example.com . We will keep you updated as needed. Thanks.
Also see NPR's blog post about this here.
About three and a half hours after the above email was sent, Simeone had been fired by a show called Soundprint as punishment for having been "unethical." Here is her bio on that show's website. And here she is on NPR's.
Soundprint is a show that does touch on politics and includes political viewpoint in Simeone's ledes, but it is not an NPR program and not distributed by NPR. It is, however, heard on public radio stations. Despite the title "NPR World of Opera," that show is produced by a small station called WDAV for which Simeone contracts. Simeone was not an NPR employee. WDAV has not expressed any concern over Simeone's "ethics."
Simeone told me: "I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen -- the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly -- on my own time in my own life. I'm not an NPR employee. I'm a freelancer. NPR doesn't pay me. I'm also not a news reporter. I don't cover politics. I've never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I've done for NPR World of Opera. What is NPR afraid I'll do -- insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?
"This sudden concern with my political activities is also surprising in light of the fact that Mara Liaason reports on politics for NPR yet appears as a commentator on FoxTV, Scott Simon hosts an NPR news show yet writes political op-eds for national newspapers, Cokie Roberts reports on politics for NPR yet accepts large speaking fees from businesses. Does NPR also send out 'Communications Alerts' about their activities?"
Let's be clear about Simeone's political activities. We have three quarters of the country wanting billionaires taxed, two-thirds wanting wars ended, large majorities wanting funding moved from the military to green energy and education and jobs. Simeone has been taking part in a nonviolent encampment designed to facilitate the petitioning of our government for a redress of grievances, a right guaranteed by the First Amendment. That's all. She has been participating. Nothing more. There is nothing more specific to the allegation, nothing in particular that she has allegedly done other than participate in a nonviolent mass mobilization on behalf of majority opinion.
It may be difficult for NPR bigwigs to understand why we don't all just rent $400 per night hotel rooms instead of littering a public square with tents. But NPR's highly paid political agitators on behalf of the 1% are part of the problem. They are what we are protesting. And that is presumably what makes our speech and assembly "unethical."
Or perhaps the breech of ethics is to be found in behaving as a decent citizen while simultaneously possessing some connection to the most insidious corporate loudspeaker in the country, one labeled "public" but belonging to the 1%.
The most important point to stress here, I think, is that all requests should be routed through NPR Communications at 202-513-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We can fit our demands on a bumpersticker: "Majority Rule" or "People Over Profits" or "Love Not Greed." But we don't want to. Our government is doing everything wrong, and we should be allowed to present the full list of grievances. We can, however, give the world a thousand words' worth in an image, a pie chart to be exact. Our federal budget funds the wrong things. We want it to fund the right things.
Here are pie charts produced by some of us members of the 99%: gallery.
Here's where you can make your own: start.
You'll have to register and log in, which prevents spam. Then you'll have a chance to fill in the percentage of the federal budget that you'd like devoted to various areas. This budget tool -- the programming for which was done by Karl Anliot -- will let you know if your total adds up to 100%. You can do this in 60 seconds, but I recommend giving it some thought and really making this into your vision for future activism.
After you create your own ideal budget pie chart, you can compare it with the actual government budget and with the ideal budgets created by the rest of us. I suspect the biggest gap is going to be between the government and everybody else. You can also go back in and edit your budget. You can link to it. You can facebook it and tweet it.
Below is an image of my ideal federal budget. I might still change it, but I'm pretty certain of the basics here. This is discretionary spending, so Social Security and other mandatory spending are not included. A trust fund into which we pay, trusting that we will be paid back, should never be placed on the chopping block. Discretionary spending, as the name suggests, is spending over which Congress has discretion each year.
The inner pie chart is broad categories, and the outer layer subcategories for spending. The yellow-orange area in the lower right is sustainable policies, including job training, mass transit, pollution control, green energy research, etc. The blue areas include education and research. The green slices are elements of friendly foreign relations. The purple is hostile foreign relations, including the military and wars. The raspberry colored sections cover basic governance, and the little black slice on the right goes to big agriculture and transportation.
Now here's an actual government budget, specifically a budget proposed by the Obama White House for 2015. The first thing you'll notice is that the military and wars have swallowed everything else. The rest of the funding areas are all crammed together in teeny little slices over on the right.
The National Priorities Project has produced a very similar pie chart using 2012 numbers, but the numbers used here come from the White House's proposed 2015 budget, also used in this survey which inspired this budget tool.
As much as I sympathize with cries of "jobs not cuts" I wonder if awareness of the state of our budget would lead us to demand that money be moved, that money be cut in one place and added to all the other sectors. Of course it could also be added to by taxing billionaires and corporations. But whatever size the pot, our public funds ought to be distributed fairly, humanely, and sustainably. Perhaps this online tool can help us develop the vision we need moving forward.
Make your own budget here: start.
Thanks in large part to the New York and national corporate media a massive campaign to shift power away from giant corporations and into the hands of the people is now afoot all across this continent. It was inspired by peoples' nonviolent uprisings in other countries and sparked by courageous nonviolence on Wall Street.
Can we keep it going and growing despite the unreliability of the corporate media? When the television networks created Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas, for us -- following the courageous stand taken by Cindy Sheehan -- they later turned against the movement and against Cindy. Already they are working to depict our occupations as violent, misdirected, undirected, and impotent.
Can we build the 99% awareness, the broad participation, the self-assurance, and the endurance to maintain on our own what we have never been able to create on our own without the cooperation of television? I think we can. I think this is different. There is broad popular support rapidly rising, but we will have to work extremely hard at communicating our purpose and our process. It must be universally understood that we want majority rule respected by our government for a change (including by ending the wars and taxing the rich) and that we will use no violence whatsoever to achieve our ends.
Occupations are becoming communities. We should be setting up permanent peoples' encampments in our public squares with free medical clinics and other services, with modeling of democratic decision making, and with sharing of strategies, friendships, and legal services for those nonviolently resisting the corporate plutopentagocratic agenda.
We should continue to engage in ever more serious civil resistance. We need to nonviolently interfere with the operations of our misrepresentatives and their financial masters. Symbolism is not enough. Actual interference is needed, and actual interference also makes the best symbolism. We should be careful to target the 1% and their servants, and to minimize disruptions for the 99%. In D.C. for example, I've been arguing against shutting down highways and in favor of shutting down driveways of those in power, bringing them early morning donuts and coffee and allowing them to leave their streets once they've answered basic questions about the direction in which they will take our country with our approval.
Our general principle of targeting the 1% and doing so nonviolently should be so well understood that when corporate columnists misrepresent us, or infiltrate us in order to instigate violence, at the very least we do not begin questioning each other in obedience to corporate propaganda.
Tom Hayden was just on Keith Olbermann and, I think, said some very important truths and a fundamental lie. He said that 10,000 people sitting down in New York Streets and insisting on trials by juries of their peers if arrested could shut down the whole system. The same is true in Washington, although the population from which to try to draw 10,000 people is much smaller there. We've had marches of hundreds of thousands of people in these cities on weekends. There's no reason we cannot have sit-ins of 10,000 on a weekday.
Hayden also said that President Barack Obama alone has the power to take huge steps to satisfy this movement. That's true. He could end the wars, save $1.5 trillion, and remove the threat to Social Security and Medicare. He could also commit to vetoing any revenue or spending legislation until the top 1% is taxed at the level last seen when President Dwight Eisenhower was in town.
But then Hayden said another option would be for Obama to "lay down the gauntlet" and declare that he couldn't do anything because the Republicans wouldn't let him. That is not an option that will have any impact on a movement like this one. We're not in this to elect somebody president. And we will not believe this kind of nonsense. As stated in the previous breath: Obama can end the wars if he chooses.
The Next War
It is critical that this movement be on high alert and continue to make connections between who's paying in, what's being defunded, and the war machine that is swallowing our savings. There is an effort underway yet again to justify a military strike by the United States and/or Israel against Iran. We need to be crystal clear: we will not stand for another war. Bombing anything is war. We will not stand for it. No crime, whether fictional or real, whether individual or national, can justify the greatest crime there is: the launching of war.
This Saturday is an international day of action. This is an opportunity to build an international movement to oppose the international corporations that fund the elections of U.S. politicians, write our trade policies, and set our national course toward that cliff just up ahead. Let's make this into a show of brotherhood and sisterhood across borders. Let's do this without politicians or parties. Let's make this a people's demand for global social justice.
And then our public servants will be permitted to do what their name suggests and serve us.
I sat down during a lengthy protest occupation to play a game of chess, but my friend was better than I am. So, halfway through the match, I said to him, "What's your one move?"
He didn't know what I meant. "What's your one winning move," I said, "and which piece are you going to use? Get all the other pieces off the board. If you can't win with one piece in one move, you'll never win!"
My voice was getting louder as I said this.
He was looking at me like I was a little bit nuts. "Sure I will," he said very slowly as if I were an idiot, "and you won't even see it coming."
I tried to reason with him. It was for his own good. "What's your one simple move? What's your one simple move? What's your one simple move?" I was practically screaming, but he still didn't understand, so I did the only thing I could. I jumped on the chess board with both feet. If he couldn't be simple, I could at least stop him from being complicated!
The problem in this story, of course, is that chess isn't simple. But compared to fixing the mess our nation and our world are in, it's child's play. Yet, we are constantly bombarded with demands for the "one simple move" to fix everything in our politics. How insane is that? And the "news" media tell us what's happening in a manner that could not possibly report coherently the complexity of a single chess game yet attempts to inform us about the entire world.
Now, I have no quarrel with short pithy posters and sound bytes. I'm not proposing that we mumble doctoral theses into television cameras. But we need to bear in mind that the medium is the moron. The people on the receiving end of television chatter are not as stupid as television itself. There is such a thing as diminishing returns in the arms race of dumbness through which we dumb everything down until we reach the ultimate perfection of pure political messaging and grunt a single syllable.
We've taken the reasonable idea of a simple unifying cause that requires little explanation. We've combined it with the self-flagellation of progressive framers and messagers who imagine they aren't getting on the tee-vee because evolution deniers are wittier and pithier, rather than because of who owns the networks. We've stirred in a dash of Egypt envy: "Mubarak Out" said it all in two words; where are our two words? Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo.
https://occupywallst.org came up with this response to the "What is your one simple demand" demand:
On September 21st, 2011, Troy Davis, an innocent man, was murdered by the state of Georgia. Troy Davis was one of the 99 percent.
Ending capital punishment is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, the richest 400 Americans owned more wealth than half of the country's population.
Ending wealth inequality is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, four of our members were arrested on baseless charges.
Ending police intimidation is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, we determined that Yahoo lied about occupywallst.org being in spam filters.
Ending corporate censorship is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly eighty percent of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track.
Ending the modern gilded age is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly 15% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.
Ending political corruption is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of Americans did not have work.
Ending joblessness is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of America lived in poverty.
Ending poverty is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly fifty million Americans were without health insurance.
Ending health-profiteering is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America had military bases in around one hundred and thirty out of one hundred and sixty-five countries.
Ending American imperialism is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America was at war with the world.
Ending war is our one demand.
http://occupytogether.org is spreading occupations across the country, sans the One Simple Demand. How can this be? What is motivating these people? Are they all part of some cult of complexity and obscurantism? How can the imbeciles I imagine everyone but myself to be ever hope to catch on?
http://october2011.org is taking the movement to Washington, D.C., beginning on October 6th, and this crowd apparently wants seven things! and probably more! This is on the website:
Tax the rich and corporations.
End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending.
Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security and improved Medicare for all
End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests.
Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation.
Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages.
Get money out of politics.
Whoa! Way. Too. Many. Words. The ideal sentence is a single word. And you cannot build a political campaign around more than a single sentence. This is getting completely out of hand.
http://rebuildthedream.com has pretty much the same agenda, but they put it into Ten (10) points, if you can believe it:
I. Invest in America's Infrastructure
II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs
III. Invest in Public Education
IV. Offer Medicare for All
V. Make Work Pay
VI. Secure Social Security
VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates
VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home
IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation
X. Strengthen Democracy
What do they want us to do, stop and think about it, for godsake? Who has the time? I mean, I do, of course. It's way shorter and simpler than the directions for my blueray player. But, what about everybody else? What about all the knuckle-dragging mouth-breathing cretins we all know everybody except ourselves to be? How will we ever get power into their hands, where it belongs, unless we can persuade them to want it in under four seconds, the dumbasses?
Plus, there's just a lot more entertaining bickering when the people who swear election funding is the root of all evil have to go up against the global-warming-is-more-important-than-anything-else gang, especially if a few members of the only-fixing-the-media-matters tribe butt in. If these people all get together and group their causes under a broader heading like "People Power" or "End Empire" or "Human Needs Over Corporate Greed," or just plain "Occupy," well there just might be too many of them working together at that point, if you know what I mean. A few of them in a park is OK. They take off their clothes and sing songs. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. But when they start talking about being 99 percent of the country, and when they start including just about everybody who stops by, well that just doesn't seem like responsible behavior. I don't see how this can end well.
In a recent debate Congressman Ron Paul claimed the United States military had troops in 130 countries. The St. Petersburg Times looked into whether such an outrage could actually be true and was obliged to report that the number was actually 148 countries. However, if you watch NFL football games, you hear the announcers thank members of the U.S. military for watching from 177 countries. The proud public claim is worse than the scandalous claim or the "investigative" report. What gives?
We are supposed to be proud of the U.S. empire but to reject with high dudgeon any accusation of having an empire. Abroad, this conversation makes even less sense, because those troops and their bases are in everyone's faces. I lived near Vicenza, Italy, years ago. The people tolerated the U.S. Army base. The addition of a many-times larger one in the same town, now underway, has led to outrage, condemnation, and bitter resentment of being handed second-class citizenship in one's own country while being asked to show gratitude for it.
As President Obama encircles Russia with missile bases and China with naval bases, the people who live or used to live where the bases are built resent the occupation, just as the people of Iraq and Afghanistan resent the occupation. A global movement against U.S. military bases is rapidly rising from all corners of the empire. But so is a movement against the occupation of Der Homeland by an unrepresentative and unrepresenting police state.
Those of us not in the Forbes 400 have been handed second-class citizenship in the place we are supposedly protecting through the occupation of every other place. A large majority of us want the rich and the corporations taxed heavily, but they are not. We want the wars ended, the troops brought home, and military spending cut. None of this happens. Nor do the outcomes of elections impact the likelihood of any of these things happening. We want to keep and strengthen Social Security. We want Medicare protected and expanded to cover us all. We want rights enlarged for human beings and curtailed for corporations. We want to cut off the corporate welfare and the bankster bailouts. We want to invest in infrastructure, green energy, and education. We want the right to organize and assemble. And we want a clean system that allows public pressure through ordinary means: publicly funded elections, verifiable vote counting, no gerrymanders, no media and ballot barriers to candidates. None of this is forthcoming. We are paying taxation and receiving no representation.
Here's an "End Empire" agenda:
· Cut a half a trillion dollars out of the $1.2 trillion national security budget; putting half of it into tax cuts for non-billionaires, and half of it into useful spending on green energy, education, retraining for displaced military-industrial workers, etc.
· Bring the National Guard home and de-federalize it.
· Ban the redeployment of personnel currently suffering PTSD.
· Ban no-bid uncompeted military contracts.
· Restore Constitutional war powers to the Congress.
· Create of a public referendum required prior to launching any war.
· Close the foreign bases.
· Ban weapons from space.
· Ban extra-legal prisons.
· Ban kangaroo military courts outside of our ordinary court system.
· Restore habeas corpus.
· Limit military spending to no more than twice that of the next highest spending nation on earth.
· Ban secret budgets, secret agencies, and secret operations.
· Ban the launching of drone strikes into foreign nations.
· Forbid the transfer of students' information to military recruiters without their permission.
· Comply with the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
I've had people across the political spectrum tell me this all seems reasonable and necessary. But that doesn't make it happen. What could make change possible is the process of reversal now underway through which the occupied are becoming the occupiers. On Wall Street, protesters of plutocracy are risking their bodies. Police are assaulting, pepper-spraying, and tasering peaceful demonstrators, as uppercrusters guzzle champagne on balconies, gawking at the spectacle. But reports are leaking out of police refusing to participate in assaulting people -- people who are acting on behalf of the police as much as anyone else. If the NYPD finds the decency found by some members of the militaries of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the decency to refuse evil orders, the tide will quickly turn. If they do not, the tide will slowly turn. But turn it will.
Occupations are now being organized across the country, building up to a massive occupation of Washington, D.C., beginning October 6th: http://october2011.org
This is how it starts. There is no other moral option than nonviolent resistance. There is no other possible outcome than success. That's the beauty of ending an empire; victory is guaranteed sooner or later by the inevitability of imperial collapse. Our task is to speed it along and ease the pain during the process. The last word goes to U2:
And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care
And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on
Remarks at Lynchburg College on September 26, 2011
I'd like to thank Dave Freier for inviting me, and all of you for being here. I think I was invited to speak about my most recent book, War Is A Lie, but I asked Professor Freier if it would be all right to speak about my next book, not yet finished, and he agreed. So, the following is a relatively very short summary of a forthcoming book that is not yet finished, and which I need your help with. It would be very helpful to me if you let me know when I've finished these opening remarks what was unclear, what didn't make sense, or what didn't persuade you, as well as what -- if anything -- seemed useful or inspiring.
It would also help me a lot if you would raise your hands to show your views on a few questions. First, raise your hand if you believe that war is illegal. I don't mean particular atrocities or particular types of wars, but war. And I don't mean bad or regrettable, but illegal. If you're not sure or think it's not a good question don't raise your hand. OK, thank you. Now, raise your hand if you think war should be illegal. OK, thank you. And now raise your hand if you know what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is. All right, that was very helpful. Now, let me tell you a little story, or at least a few pieces of it.
In 1927 and 1928 a hot-tempered Republican from Minnesota named Frank, who privately cursed pacifists, managed to persuade nearly every country on earth to ban war. He had been moved to do so, against his will, by a global demand for peace and a U.S. partnership with France created through illegal diplomacy by peace activists. The driving force in achieving this historic breakthrough was a remarkably unified, strategic, and relentless U.S. peace movement with its strongest support in the Midwest; its strongest leaders professors, lawyers, and university presidents; its voices in Washington, D.C., those of Republican senators from Idaho and Kansas; its views welcomed and promoted by newspapers, churches, and women's groups all over the country; and its determination unaltered by a decade of defeats and divisions.
The movement depended in large part on the new political power of female voters. The effort might have failed had Charles Lindbergh not flown an airplane across an ocean, or Henry Cabot Lodge not died, or had other efforts toward peace and disarmament not been dismal failures. But public pressure made this step, or something like it, almost inevitable. And when it succeeded -- although the outlawing of war was never fully implemented in accordance with the plans of its visionaries -- much of the world believed war had been made illegal. Wars were, in fact, halted and prevented. And when, nonetheless, wars continued and a second world war engulfed the globe, that catastrophe was followed by the trials of men accused of the brand new crime of making war, as well as by global adoption of the United Nations Charter, a document owing much to its pre-war predecessor while still falling short of the ideals of what in the 1920s was called the Outlawry movement.
"Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before," wrote Ed McCurdy in 1950 in what became a popular folk song. "I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men. And the paper they were signing said they'd never fight again." But that scene had already happened in reality on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France. The treaty that was signed that day, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was subsequently ratified by the United States Senate in a vote of 85 to 1 and remains on the books to this day as part of what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution calls "the supreme Law of the Land."
Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State who made this treaty happen, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and saw his public reputation soar -- so much so that the United States named a ship after him, one of the "liberty ships" that carried war supplies to Europe during World War II. Kellogg was dead at the time. So, many believed, were prospects for world peace. But the Kellogg-Briand Pact and its renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy is something we might want to revive. This treaty gathered the adherence of the world's nations swiftly and publicly, driven by fervent public demand. We might think about how public opinion of that sort might be created anew, what insights it possessed that have yet to be realized, and what systems of communication, education, and elections would allow the public again to influence government policy, as the ongoing campaign to eliminate war -- understood by its originators to be an undertaking of generations -- continues to develop.
One way to revive a treaty that in fact remains law would, of course, be to begin complying with it. When lawyers, politicians, and judges want to bestow human rights on corporations, they do so largely on the basis of a footnote added by a clerk to a Supreme Court ruling from over a century back. When the Department of Justice wants to "legalize" torture or, for that matter, war, it reaches back to a twisted reading of one of the Federalist Papers or a court decision from some long forgotten era. If anyone in power today favored peace, there would be every justification for recalling and making use of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It is actually law. And it is far more recent law than the U.S. Constitution itself, which our elected officials still claim, mostly unconvincingly, to support. The Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads, in full:
"The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
"The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means."
The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, whose initiative had led to the Pact and whose previous work for peace had already earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, remarked at the signing ceremony:
"For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations. Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end."
The peace movement that made the Kellogg-Briand Pact happen, just like the militarism against which it competed, was given a huge boost by World War I, by the scale of that war and its impact on civilians, but also by the rhetoric through which the United States had been brought into the war in 1917. According to U.S. Socialist Victor Berger, all the United States had gained from participation in World War I was the flu and prohibition. It was not an uncommon view. Millions of Americans who had supported World War I, came during the years following its completion on November 11, 1918, to reject the idea that anything could ever be gained through warfare.
The propaganda machinery invented by President Woodrow Wilson and his Committee on Public Information had drawn Americans into the war with exaggerated and fictional tales of German atrocities in Belgium, posters depicting Jesus Christ in khaki sighting down a gun barrel, and promises of selfless devotion to making the world safe for democracy. The extent of the casualties was hidden from the public as much as possible during the course of the war, but by the time it was over many had learned something of war's reality. And many had come to resent the manipulation of noble emotions that had pulled an independent nation into overseas barbarity.
However, the propaganda that motivated the fighting was not immediately erased from people's minds. A war to end wars and make the world safe for democracy cannot end without some lingering demand for peace and justice, or at least for something more valuable than the flu and prohibition. Even those rejecting the idea that any war could in any way help advance the cause of peace aligned with those wanting to avoid all future wars -- a group that probably encompassed most of the U.S. population.
Some of the blame for the start of the World War was placed on secretly made treaties and alliances. President Wilson backed the ideal of public treaties, if not necessarily publicly negotiated treaties. He made this the first of his famous 14 points in his January 8, 1918, speech to Congress.
Following the war, disillusioned with its promises, many in the United States came to distrust European peace efforts, as it was European entanglements that had created the war. When the Treaty of Versailles, on June 28, 1918, imposed a cruel victors' justice on Germany, Wilson was seen as having betrayed his word. When he promised that the League of Nations would right all the wrongs of that treaty, many were skeptical, particularly as the League bore some resemblance to the sort of alliances that had produced the World War in the first place.
Both jingoistic isolationists, and internationalist peace activists with a vision of Outlawry that shunned the use of force even to punish war, rejected the League, as did the United States Senate, dealing a major blow to those peace advocates who believed the League was not only advantageous but also the reward due after so much suffering in the war. Efforts to bring the United States in as a member of the World Court failed as well. A Naval Disarmament Conference in Washington in 1921-1922 did perhaps more harm than good. And in 1923 and 1924, respectively, the members of the League of Nations in Europe failed to ratify a Draft Pact for Mutual Assistance and an agreement called the Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, both of which had adopted some of the language of the U.S. Outlawry movement to somewhat different purposes.
Remarkably, these set-backs did not halt the momentum of the peace movement in the United States or around the world. The institutional funding and structure of the peace movement was enough to make any early twenty-first century peace activist drool with envy, as was the openness of the mass media of the day, namely newspapers, to promoting peace. Leading intellectuals, politicians, robber barons, and other public figures poured their resources into the cause. A defeat or two, or ten, might discourage some individuals, but it was not about to derail the movement. Neither was political partisanship, as peace groups pressured Democrats and Republicans alike, and both responded. It was during the peaceful Republican interlude of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, in between the Democratic war-making of Wilson and Roosevelt, that the peace movement reached its height.
European trade unions were pacifist and were working to recover the pre-war idea of a general strike to prevent any movement towards war. Many political parties in Europe were strongly in favor of working to ensure peace. European peace organizations themselves were smaller and less influential than their U.S. counterparts, but they were more unified in their agenda. They favored both disarmament and the League of Nations, as well as other treaties, alliances, and arbitration agreements.
U.S. and European peace advocates came from opposite directions. Americans viewed peace as the norm and as consisting of the absence of war. But Europeans, dealing with constant threats, provocations, grievances, and divisions, believed peace to require an elaborate system of checks on hostilities and means of resolving disputes. The United States imagined the world at peace and sought to preserve it. Europeans strove to build a peace they did not know, with a keen awareness that they could never possibly solve every dispute to everyone's satisfaction.
Many U.S. peace groups, it should be said however, inclined toward the European perspective, while others did not. The United States had a larger peace movement than Europe did, but a more deeply divided one. Sincere advocates of peace came down on both sides of the questions of joining the League of Nations and the World Court. Nor did they all see eye-to-eye on disarmament. If something could be found that would unite the entire U.S. peace movement, the U.S. government of the day was sufficiently representative of the public will that whatever that measure was, it was bound to be enacted.
The Carnegie Endowment for Peace had profited from the war through U.S. Steel Corporation bonds. Its president, Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, and its director of the Division of Economics and History Professor James Thomson Shotwell, would play significant roles in the creation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, after having advocated unsuccessfully for U.S. membership in the League of Nations. Shotwell had a $600,000 annual budget, or about $6.8 million in today's terms. Other peace groups had even larger budgets. More radical peace groups, often with less funding, in some cases supported the League and the Court, but in addition pushed for disarmament and opposed militarism more consistently, including U.S. imperialism in Central and South America.
One organization deserves particular attention, although it was largely a front for a single individual and largely funded out of his own pocket. The American Committee for the Outlawry of War was the creation of Salmon Oliver Levinson. Its agenda originally attracted those advocates of peace who opposed U.S. entry into the League of Nations and international alliances. But its agenda, of outlawing war, eventually attracted the support of nearly the entire peace movement, when the Kellogg-Briand Pact became the unifying focus that had been missing.
Levinson's mission was to make war illegal. And he came to believe that the effective outlawing of war would require outlawing all war, without distinction between aggressive and defensive war, and without distinction between aggressive war and war sanctioned by an international league as punishment for an aggressor nation. Levinson wrote:
"Suppose this same distinction had been urged when the institution of dueling was outlawed. . . . Suppose it had then been urged that only 'aggressive dueling' should be outlawed and that 'defensive dueling' be left intact. . . . Such a suggestion relative to dueling would have been silly, but the analogy is perfectly sound. What we did was to outlaw the institution of dueling, a method theretofore recognized by law for the settlement of disputes of so-called honor."
Levinson wanted everyone to recognize war as an institution, as a tool that had been given acceptability and respectability as a means of settling disputes. He wanted international disputes to be settled in a court of law, and the institution of war to be rejected just as slavery had been.
Levinson understood this as leaving in place the right to self-defense, but eliminating the need for the very concept of war. National self-defense would be the equivalent of killing an assailant in personal self-defense. Such personal self-defense, he noted, was no longer called "dueling." But Levinson did not envision the killing of a war-making nation. Rather he proposed five responses to the launching of an attack: good faith, public opinion, nonrecognition of gains, the use of force to punish individual warmakers, and the use of any means including force to halt the attack.
Levinson would eventually urge the nations signing the Kellogg-Briand Pact (also known as the Pact of Paris) to incorporate the following into their criminal codes: "Any person, or persons, who shall advocate orally or in writing, or cause the publication of any printed matter which shall advocate the use of war between nations, in violation of the terms of the Pact of Paris, with the intent of causing war between or among nations , shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be imprisoned not less than ______ years." This idea can be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which states: "Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law." It was an idea that also influenced the Nuremberg prosecutions. It may be an idea worthy of revival and realization.
Levinson wrote on August 25, 1917: "War as an institution to 'settle disputes' and establish 'justice among nations' is the most barbarous and indefensible thing in civilization. . . . The real disease of the world is the legality and availability of war . . . .
Many in the United States were averse to the sort of alliances created, for example, in 1925 in Locarno, Switzerland. Under these aggreements, if Germany were to attack France, then England and Italy would have to attack Germany, whereas if France were to attack Germany, then England and Italy would have to attack France. Aristide Briand made a name for himself as a peace negotiator in Locarno, but the Outlawrists' criticism of such arrangements as sheer madness looks wiser through the lens of later history.
Rather than alliances and unpredictable adjudications, the Outlawrists favored the rule of the written word. The most popular criticism of Outlawry was that it intended to simply wish war away by banning it. The most popular criticism of international alliances was that they would create wars to end wars. While NATO and even the United Nations have indeed been used to launch wars (although the European Union has rendered wars within Western Europe unimaginable), the Kellogg Briand-Pact and the United Nations Charter have banned war, and wars have proceeded merrily on their way not noticing. But all of this criticism is overly simplistic. The United Nations is a corrupt approximation of an ideal never yet realized. And Outlawry, despite passage of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, has never been fully tried.
Outlawry, in Charles Morrison's outline of it (Morrison was a close ally of Levinson), required that a world court ruling on a body of world law be substituted for war as a means of settling disputes. The International Criminal Court (ICC), finally created in 2002 and having taken jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in 2010, begins to approach this idea, but the United States is not a member, and yet the court is under the thumb of the United States and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The 1920s critics of the then existing World Court as a creature of the League of Nations would, if brought forward in time, no doubt have a similar critique of the ICC.
Where the argument for Outlawry gets a little hairy is in its refusal to consider any distinction between aggressive and defensive war, while nonetheless countenancing armaments and self-defense. Morrison argues that distinguishing aggressors from defenders is a fool's errand, as every nation always claims to be fighting in defense, and an initial attack may have been provoked by the other side. (In 2001 and 2003 the United States attacked the distant, unarmed, impoverished nations of Afghanistan and Iraq and claimed to be acting in defense.) Morrison believes that self-defense will almost certainly not be needed, in the future of outlawed war, because war just won't happen. But were it to happen, self-defense clearly must be envisioned in Morrison's scheme as something that does not resemble war. For, otherwise, how can the world court of Outlawry determine which nation(s)' leaders to put on trial?
Ultimately, outlawing war is a process of moral development. Changing the law and establishing a court to enforce it is a means toward changing people's conception of what is morally acceptable. Viewed in this way, the work of the 1920s that brought about the Kellogg-Briand Pact can be seen as a partial success to be built upon, whether or not any court will ever be able to both prosecute warmaking and avoid the distinction between aggression and defense.
Morrison argued that Outlawry was so clear and so popular that no statesman would dare oppose it. He urged popularizing the peace movement, taking it out of the hands of experts. And he was right about that. He was right about the United States and about the entire world. Nobody opposed banning war. While we still have wars, most people do not want them. Wars may be Tyrannical Ruler Nature, or Corporate Profiteer Nature, but they are the furthest thing from Human Nature.
In 1922, the Lion of Idaho, Republican Senator William Borah, slowly began to roar. Levinson produced a pamphlet on Outlawry at Borah's request, and Borah republished it as a Senate document, placing it in the Congressional Record. Senator Borah and Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas mailed it to their lists. Meanwhile, Raymond Robins barnstormed the country making speech after speech for Outlawry, and Levinson corresponded at length with anyone and everyone who expressed interest or raised objections. Organizations of all varieties passed countless resolutions in support of Outlawry. School boards and labor unions distributed pamphlets. Prominent figures gave their endorsements.
Groups that supported the Outlawry of war early in the campaign included some organizations that are still around today, but which one cannot imagine even considering taking the same step again, even with the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the U.N. Charter already in existence and formally a part of our law. Among these were the National League of Women Voters, the Young Women's Christian Associations, the National Association of Parents and Teachers, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and the American Legion.
When President Harding up and dropped dead in 1923, his Vice President Calvin Coolidge got the top job and the Republican nomination to remain in it after 1924. Indeed, he remained until March 1929. Levinson helped persuade Coolidge to pick Borah for the vice presidency and Borah to accept, but this deal fell through, Borah declined, and Charles Dawes accepted. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg would have occasion to refer to Dawes as "an unmitigated ass" prior to organizing the nations of the world in support of brotherly love. Borah would instead end up in the job of Chairman of Foreign Relations. Outlawry made it into Coolidge's speech accepting the Republican nomination but not into the Republican Platform. It did, however, make it into the Democratic Party Platform.
While the struggle for women's suffrage had used marches and civil disobedience, and conscientious objectors to the war had used noncooperation, those were not the primary tools of the Outlawry campaign. Instead there were countless public meetings and packed lecture halls, signed petitions and resolutions, and the support of numerous newspaper editorials.
In 1923, Borah introduced an Outlawry resolution in the Senate, following a tireless lobbying effort by Levinson. Outlawry began to unite peace groups in a way that the League and the Court did not. In 1924 Levinson and the Outlawrists sought unity with their fellow peace-activist League supporters, offering support for World Court membership in exchange for support for the Borah Resolution on Outlawry. In 1925, League and Outlawry supporters reached an agreement, known as the Harmony Plan, backing adherence to the Court Protocol and within two years the backing of Outlawry and the holding of a conference to embody in a treaty the principles that war be made a crime and the Court be given jurisdiction. A third and final plank in this agreement was that the United States would withdraw from the Court if the Outlawry provisions were not put into effect within two years. The plan was reported in national and international newspapers and served as a guide for local peace organizations, even though the peace-movement leadership was back to quarrelling by the end of the year.
Butler met with Briand in June 1926, at which point Briand asked "What can we do next?" Butler replied: "My dear Briand, I have just been reading a book . . . . Its title is Vom Kriege, and its author was Karl von Clausewitz . . . . I came upon an extraordinary chapter in its third volume, entitled 'War as an Instrument of Policy.' Why has not the time come for the civilized government of the world formally to renounce war as an instrument of policy?" Briand's reply was "Would not that be wonderful if it were possible? I must read that book."
In 1927 the pressure on world leaders for steps to ensure peace reached a climax, and the pieces of a plan to do something about it began to be fitted into place. Political organizations and clubs pushing for peace were springing up by the hundreds. And the question of the League of Nations was no longer there to divide them.
Shotwell met with Briand in Paris on March 22nd. France had just refused a U.S. invitation to a disarmament conference and was still upset about its treatment at the one in Washington and about U.S. accusations of militarism, not to mention U.S. insistence on war debt payment, and U.S. refusal to join the League or the Court. Shotwell suggested removing U.S. suspicions of French militarism by proposing a treaty to renounce war as an instrument of national policy.
On April 6, 1927, Levinson was on a train to New York where he would sail to Europe. He read the day's newspapers on the train and was overjoyed and overwhelmed by an Associated Press report on a public statement from Briand, the Foreign Minister of France. Shotwell later told both John Dewey and Robert Ferrell that he had written Briand's message himself. The message proposed that the United States and France sign a treaty renouncing war.
This was public diplomacy at its most public. The Foreign Minister of France was proposing a treaty through the Associated Press. The only downside to such methods was that a response could not be required. And in fact, no response from the U.S. government was forthcoming. And the newspapers didn't see any story worth pursuing. On April 8th Butler and Borah publicly debated the outlawing of rum, which was of much more interest to the media. Butler, who wanted to abolish war believed banning rum was too difficult. With regard to Briand's offer, Butler took matters into his own hands. He published a letter in the New York Times on April 25th demanding action in response to Briand's proposal.
Butler's letter in the New York Times and a supportive editorial published by the New York Times caught the wider news media's attention. Newspapers turned it into a big story in the United States and even abroad. This was Butler beginning a dialogue with his colleague Shotwell, but with Butler speaking for the United States and Shotwell having spoken through Briand for France. Not a bad bit of ventriloquism.
Numerous senators spoke up in support of answering Briand's offer. Borah was opposed to an alliance with France and proposed that the treaty be expanded to include all other nations. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, when he read Butler's letter, told a friend that Butler and the French were a set of "--- ------ fools" making suggestions that could lead to nothing but embarrassment. If there was anything he hated, Kellogg said, it was "-------- pacifists."
But as public pressure grew, Levinson and Borah worked to educate Kellogg on Outlawry. When Senator Capper introduced a resolution in November 1927 in support of renouncing war, the nation understood that the farmers of the Midwest were behind Briand's proposal, or at least not against it. The Pocatello Tribune arrived at this cynical interpretation:
"The real significance of the Capper plan . . . lie in its showing the belief of western politicians that the voters who prevented American entry into the league are aware that if Europe spends a disproportionate share of its limited funds in military preparation it will have little left for American wheat and corn."
This was, of course, before the weapons exporters came to hold more sway in Washington than the wheat and corn exporters.
The combination of a number of Republican leaders backing former Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes for the 1928 Republican presidential nomination and Capper introducing a resolution coming out of the Butler-Shotwell camp, a resolution that defined aggressive war, may have helped motivate Borah, with his own presidential ambitions, to manipulate Briand's offer in his own direction. The treaty would end up banning all war in order to (1) avoid banning only aggressive war, and (2) avoid doing nothing. The latter was not an option, given the pressure coming from the peace movement. On December 10, 1927, Jane Addams led a delegation to the White House and delivered a petition with 30,000 names. Coolidge assured her that he would try to achieve the treaty with France. Addams sent the same petition to Briand who thanked her. By January, 1928, to the shock of his staff at the State Department, Kellogg was working hard to achieve a universal treaty, which France did not want, and writing to his wife that he hoped to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
On February 5th, with negotiations stalemated, Senator Borah published a front-page article in the New York Times Magazine, largely prepared by Levinson. The headline was "One Great Treaty to Outlaw All Wars." Borah claimed that a breach of the treaty by one nation would release other nations from complying with it in relation to that violator. This would allow self-defense. It would also allow France to sign such a treaty while still upholding its treaties forming alliances to respond to war. Kellogg continued to push France, and in March asked the U.S. ambassador to point out to Briand the wisdom of acting while Kellogg was still in office. Coolidge had less than a year remaining as president.
The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom passed a resolution commending Kellogg on May 5th. So did the American Peace Society. The National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War's 12 million women planned 48 state conferences through which to influence the Senate when it came time to ratify a treaty renouncing war. On June 23rd, Kellogg wrote to 14 countries. Germany formally agreed on July 11th, and France three days later. Agreeing to sign the pact by July 20th would be Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, India, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. And these additional nations would sign on to adhere to it: Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Romania, the Soviet Union, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Siam, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. Eight further states joined at a later date: Persia, Greece, Honduras, Chile, Luxembourg, Danzig, Costa Rica, and Venezuela.
Does anybody know what Persia is called today?
The Kellogg-Briand Pact was put together in an extremely public manner, and as these things go was agreed to very quickly, and with an unusually high number of adhering nations. Most observers give public opinion and public pressure the credit. The U.S. peace movement was fully behind it, and that unity was a new and powerful force. About the public opinion in favor of the Peace Pact it is worth noting a couple of things. First, the propaganda campaign that had brought public opinion around to supporting war in 1917 had been far more extensive, vastly more expensive, and backed up by a police force. The peace movement did not have to intimidate or lie to anyone in the United States to gain their support for Kellogg-Briand. Secondly, the same was true with foreign heads of state acting in accordance with the wishes of their peoples. Unlike the formation of a coalition of nations to invade Iraq in 2003, this coalition of nations to outlaw war was put together without bribery or threats being required.
The highest hurdle remained, namely the U.S. Senate. The peace movement buried it in letters, petitions, resolutions, and lobbying visits. Supportive senators read the petitions into the congressional record. President Coolidge persuaded Vice President Dawes to whip every senator in support of the Pact. The Federal Council of Churches brought the White House a petition with 180,000 signatures. In mid-January 1929, a thousand women peace leaders from around the country lobbied their respective senators in Washington, delivering thousands of petitions. Carrie Chapman Catt, who led this effort, suffered a heart attack during it. The vote was 85 to 1. The Wisconsin state legislature censured its U.S. senator who had voted No. Other senators who had expressed concerns all voted Yes. One explained his Yes vote by saying he did not want to be burned in effigy back in his state.
It would take me another hour to begin to cover the hypocrisies, weaknesses, and shortcomings of this accomplishment. I'll limit myself here to claiming that it was an accomplishment. It was not just a second-rate effort after the League of Nations failed, nor just a pretense or a fraud. The Kellogg-Briand Pact established the practice of not recognizing territorial claims gained through war, and its revival by another crusading lawyer during World War II (the Pact having been largely forgotten by then) created prosecutions of the crime of aggression -- ironically so, in that the Pact had been created precisely in order to avoid creating a crime called aggression. Victors' justice is not full justice, but punishing leaders following World War II worked out a whole lot better than punishing an entire nation after World War I had.
A new and more faithful revival of Outlawry might again serve us well. The Kellogg-Briand Pact, which has never been repealed, makes a stronger case against wars like Afghanistan and Iraq than does the U.N. Charter. To comply with Kellogg-Briand, wars need not be defensive or U.N.-authorized. Rather, wars need to simply not exist.
Outlawry also removes a major reason why young men and women join the military, namely to make war as a means to achieving peace. If there is no way to peace other than peace, if war cannot have a noble cause, if war has been -- as it formally has been -- renounced as an instrument of policy, then idealistic militarism goes away from recruiting offices, and the propaganda of humanitarian war suffers as well.
We may also have something to learn from the activism that promoted Outlawry. It was principled, non-partisan, cross-ideological, and unrelenting. More internationalist and more principled anti-imperialist or disarmament proposals, and the proposal to create a public referendum power to block wars, helped to make Outlawry mainstream by comparison. The campaign was built over a period of years through both education and the cultivation of powerful supporters. It was not overly distracted by elections. Its analysis included cold cost-benefit calculations, but front and center was always the morality of the cause of ending war. This campaign worked internationally, nationally, and locally. And its members did not believe victory would come in their lifetimes. But neither were they so self-focused as to imagine that this somehow made eventual victory impossible.
There is one thing that we can say with certainty, and I will close with this: if Outlawry does not win, humanity will lose.
Wednesday evening, when the news was mistakenly announced that Troy Davis would not be killed, the crowd that I was with erupted with joy and with the enthusiastic realization that we all were capable of believing that something good had been done by our government. I was at the dedication of the Howard Zinn room in the new Busboys and Poets restaurant in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Some of us had been assigned to read selections from the late Zinn's "Voices of a People's History of the United States." I was asked to read John Brown's courtroom speech in which he said, "Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children, and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit: so let it be done!"
Brown had used violence. I condemn it. Brown was not submitting. He'd been captured. But he also said this: "
Had Troy Davis been able to afford an expensive lawyer. Had Troy Davis been white. Had Troy Davis lived in a different state or a different nation.
Davis was again told he would be killed. He was again told that he might not be. He was again told that he would be killed. And finally, he was killed by chemical injection while strapped down to prevent writhing. Observers observed. And those of us who had left the restaurant to go and protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court wailed in pain, while the world reacted as it reacted to the killing of Sacco and Vanzetti, and as it has reacted to each of our governments' million acts of barbarism down through the years.
Over in Texas another man was governmentally killed, thus creating the possibility for even louder applause when that state's governor's total scalp-count is next announced.
Meanwhile, large numbers of people are killed in our wars, wars our President announced Wednesday morning are waged on behalf of peace. Where is Amnesty International? Where is the NAACP? Are those people killed in wars less human?
What about those our government has tortured to death? Does the manner in which they are killed make them more lamentable than those killed with bombs, just as chemical injection is deemed less lamentable than electrocution?
Our government now kills, as a rule, rather than taking prisoners. And it kills with unmanned drones. It also kicks in doors at night and disappears people.
We know a little about assassination teams that have operated in Afghanistan in recent years, teams including Special Forces, CIA, and mercenaries. I have good reason to believe -- although I cannot now say why -- that such teams have also operated on U.S. soil. But isn't killing, even on Afghan soil, just as evil? Should it matter where, or who, or why, or how?
Aren't the lost opportunities to save lives when our money all goes to wars and Wall Street just as murderous? Medicare cuts kill. Unclean air kills. Pretending Social Security is in trouble kills. Pushing our elders into the poor house kills. Polluting our environment kills.
Our government's status as pro-life is in grave doubt. Its title as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world remains in place.
We can't prosecute Supreme Court justices because we have no Justice Department. We can't impeach Supreme Court justices, because we have no Congress. What can we do? One thing that I think we can and must do is recognize that, if for that one moment we believed Troy Davis might be spared, then we believe in our hearts that victory is possible. And because we believe that, we have a responsibility to work for it.
We can do that by building as large a presence as possible to occupy Washington, D.C., beginning October 6th -- http://october2011.org
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, like Jeanette Rankin before her, bravely stood alone in Congress against a vote for war, the vote in 2001 for the so-called Authorization to Use Military Force, a Constitutionally dubious passing of the war decision buck to President Bush and his successors. A majority of Americans now believes that the Afghanistan War that followed that authorization never should have been begun and should, in fact, be ended. So, the Congresswoman, along with initial cosponsors Jones, Woolsey, Grijalva, Conyers, and Honda, is offering us a second chance, a chance to get our response to 9-11 right, to restore war powers to the Congress, and to impose the will of the people on that body.
Congresswoman Lee has sent her colleagues this letter, which we should each send them ourselves by email, fax, phone, carrier pigeon, and by nailing it to their cathedral doors:
"Please join me as an original cosponsor of the 'Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act of 2011.' This legislation repeals the joint resolution providing overly-broad authorization to the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those involved in attacking our nation and to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.
"This broad authorization of force has had far-reaching implications which shake the very foundations of our great nation and democracy. It has been used to justify warrantless surveillance and wiretapping activities, indefinite detention practices that fly in the face of our constitutional values, extrajudicial targeted-killing operations, and an ever-growing and indefinite pursuit of an ill-defined enemy abroad.
"We must repeal this authorization for use of military force, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and re-focus our energy and efforts into those actions which truly improve our national security, including developing emerging economies and diplomatic efforts. Please join me as an original cosponsor of this legislation to remove this overly-broad blank check for war anytime, anywhere.
"For more information or to cosponsor this measure, please contact Teddy Miller in my office at email@example.com or 5.2661.
Member of Congress"
The legislation itself is shorter than the above letter, powerful in its simplicity, approaching in fact the populist wisdom of the long-forgotten Kellogg-Briand Pact, and offering far more than a technical readjustment within a government rotten to its core. At the risk of revitalizing the utterly discredited and poisonous notions of hope and change, I would suggest that this bill offers the nearest possible approximation of the time-altering repeal, not of a law, but of the past decade of collective insanity and self-righteous mass-murder. Read this carefully:
To repeal Public Law 107–40.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Ms. LEE of California introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on _______
To repeal Public Law 107–40.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force’’.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDING.
Congress finds that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), signed into law on September 18, 2001, has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.
SEC. 3. REPEAL OF PUBLIC LAW 107–40.
Effective 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.
The AUMF is to be repealed here for two reasons: because Congress is Constitutionally bound to decide matters of war and cannot legally hand off that responsibility to its executive, and because Congresswoman Lee's tearful predictions when she stood alone against this madness a decade ago, and was subsequently obliged to hire security protection, have been proved right; the Authorization has been used and abused to an ever greater extent as an aggrandizement of executive power and a justification for the erosion of our civil liberties. This proposal comes on the heels of a successful public push by RootsAction.org, the ACLU, and others to strip out of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act language that would have radically expanded, rather than repealed, the 2001 AUMF.
Of course, the sponsorship of this proposal by a handful of Congress Members, any number of them capable of losing their spine at the command of their parties' leaders, does not suggest the likelihood of quick passage. But it does give a somewhat floundering peace movement a point around which to rally, educate, organize, and pressure. Rather than joining Congressional progressives in lobbying the 12-member Super Congress, even for top priorities like ending the wars and moving the money to human needs, rather than focusing purely on appealing to an all-powerful president to end particular wars (important as that is), we have an opportunity here to shift the country away from both the idea of presidential war making and the idea, recognized now even by the Washington Post, of war without end, war as normality, with peace having become the state of affairs requiring particular justification.
As popular movements begin to bring nonviolent resistance to Washington, D.C., including this October ( http://october2011.org ) perhaps one appropriate measure would be the shutting down of the congressional offices of each member who has not yet joined the good Congresswoman from Oakland on this bill -- a step I'm sure she would never recommend to us and which it is not her role to recommend to us, but a step which morality requires of us as clearly as the blood of our innocent victims is crying out from continents day after day.
It is difficult to watch this video without both crying and being inspired. Ashley Joppa-Hagemann recounts her husband's struggles before he killed himself to avoid an eighth or ninth tour in the Iraq-Afghanistan Wars. Ashley confronted Donald Rumsfeld last week over the lies that led her husband to enlist. This led to her appearing on Democracy Now on Tuesday and being featured in Amy Goodman's column:
Joppa-Hagemann will be speaking at and participating in a conference on September 16-18 in Virginia. She has begun speaking out because she heard someone else doing the same, and because a group of veterans in Washington State has helped her to do so. Other bereaved military family members are already beginning to get involved as a result of hearing Hagemann.
These connections, and the Rumsfeld encounter, are the work of an anti-war GI coffee house called Coffee Strong located within 300 meters of the gates of Fort Lewis in Lakewood, WA. I spoke on Wednesday with Joseph Carter, Co-Executive Director of Coffee Strong and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. I recommend listening to the audio.
Can "Support the Troops" mean something more than "Continue the Wars"?
Carter described to me the difficult but critical work engaged in by coffee houses like this one, which was opened in 2008 but follows in the tradition of Vietnam War era coffee houses, as do others opened around the country in recent years.
Coffee Strong helps soldiers get counseling and learn their rights. While the U.S. casualties in Afghanistan continue to mount, they are less than the casualties of veterans who have been returned "safely" home but who are tortured by post traumatic stress disorder. Coffee Strong helps those unable or unwilling to remain in the military to find alternatives.
While our government continues wars opposed by the majority of us and abandons veterans to their suffering, those who try to provide support are naturally denounced as traitors. Someone has even lit an incendiary device in front of Coffee Strong.
Joseph Carter laughs off the hostility and threats issued by rightwing war advocates. Perhaps such threats appear slight to someone like Carter who has been through the mind-warping hell that is war.
After watching him suffer, Hagemann believes her husband is better off now, out of his pain. If her voice prevents someone else entering that hell it will have done more good than most of us can imagine.
An upcoming Charlottesville conference highlights the importance of whistleblowers when addressing the corruption present in military contracting
By David Swanson, Guest Viewpoint on August 31, 2011, Cavalier Daily
YOU MAY have heard something about a budget crisis in Washington this summer. Were you aware that in the midst of it the House of Representatives passed a military spending bill larger than ever before?
U.S. military spending across numerous departments has increased dramatically during the past decade and now makes up about half of federal discretionary spending. Yet the Defense Department has not been fully audited in 20 years, and as of 2001 it could not account for $2.3 trillion out of the $10 trillion or so it had been given during that time. More recently, President Obama has been waging his “days, not weeks” war in Libya for months without a dime appropriated by Congress, relying instead on the loose change lying around at the Pentagon.
The United States could reduce its military spending by at least 80 percent and still be the world’s top military spender. If the purpose of all this profligacy were truly defensive, wouldn’t a military merely as large as any other country’s do the job? When little cuts around the edges were forced into the discussion, wouldn’t the top priorities for elimination be unpopular wars, foreign bases, nuclear weapons and space weapons rather than health care for veterans? If something shameful were not motivating our self-destructive imperial overreach, wouldn’t the wonders of market competition be given a chance, instead of the current practice of handing out cost-plus contracts to cronies for jobs they are never expected to complete?
Paying our debts
When someone inside the military contracting process gives us a peak at what is done with half our income taxes, we owe that person a debt of gratitude. And the person who has opened the widest crack in the wall of secrecy around Pentagon spending in recent years is probably Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse, who will be speaking in Charlottesville along with more than 20 other experts Sept. 16-18.
In February 2003, just before the United States invaded Iraq, Greenhouse, the chief contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, found herself in a Pentagon meeting discussing the terms of an Iraq contract to be awarded to Halliburton, the company for which then-Vice President Dick Cheney had served previously as CEO. Greenhouse whispered to the general running the meeting that she objected to the presence of several Halliburton representatives in the room, and when they had left she recommended against awarding the company a $7 billion emergency, no-bid contract for five years. While it was ludicrous to pretend that a contracting “emergency” would last that long, Congress has continued ever since to fund our wars with off-the-books “emergency supplemental” bills.
Despite Cheney’s claim to the contrary on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sept. 14, 2003, he had been involved in creating that Halliburton contract. This is shown by an email that Time Magazine published in June 2004, as well as by the testimony of political appointee Michael Mobbs. Mobbs had worked with Halliburton to create the need for the contract and then to fill it, much as then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney had, years earlier, created needs for Halliburton’s services that he had then been able to fill as its CEO.
Cheney hired Halliburton to recommend privatizing military services with a company like Halliburton. Halliburton, in turn, hired Cheney to share in the spoils. And then Cheney, while still receiving deferred compensation from Halliburton, made sure his company continued to rake in the profits. This chutzpah was matched only by the Halliburton drivers hauling empty trucks across Iraq and reporting that they had transported “sailboat fuel.”
Greenhouse’s resistance to the corrupt cronyism that predated and outlasted Cheney cost her the job of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief contracting officer. This summer she finally was awarded $970,000 in restitution. If that award legitimizes Greenhouse’s concerns in the eyes of many, so much the better. We really should not need a stamp of approval from our government, however, before approving of serious criticism of governmental wrongdoing.
The Greenhouse effect
The lesson that Greenhouse would have us learn is not that the system finally worked, but that it is fundamentally broken. Our representative government is under the thumb of the military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned 50 years ago this year. “In my actions, there were no thoughts of repercussions,” Greenhouse said. “My thoughts were about doing the right things for the best interest of the government.”
Greenhouse eventually sent a letter to then-Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee, which somehow ended up in the hands of Congressional staffers who in turn shared it with media outlets. Greenhouse said she has no knowledge of how the letter got to Congress, which suggests the possible existence of another whistleblower. Such anonymous whistleblowers deserve our thanks as well.
“The following Monday after the letter was received,” Greenhouse said, “Lieutenant General
Greenhouse described to me the contract abuses she witnessed and explained their illegality. “Appropriate laws and regulations are on the books,” she said, “but if contracting officials are continually intimidated and removed from their positions when they highlight improprieties … our laws and regulations are not worth the paper they are written on.”
Asked about the compensation she has been awarded, Greenhouse said, “I feel blessed in that the best and most dedicated lawyers came to my rescue. I am disheartened because the legal process does not provide adequate protection or remedies to federal whistleblowers. I am relieved that my ordeal has come to an end and I take comfort knowing that I would do it all over again because doing what’s right is a sacred duty.”
A call to attention
But the problem remains. “There has been a chill over the contracting and SES communities since my demotion,” Greenhouse said, “and many contracting folks believe if one tries to curb contracting abuse, they will not be thanked, but fired.” Notice the present tense. Greenhouse is not suffering under the delusion that changing the president’s political party transforms the Pentagon.
In fact, retribution against whistleblowers has intensified under President Obama, as exemplified by the cases of Thomas Drake, James Risen, Shamai Leibowitz and Bradley Manning. A Justice Department openly taking its direction from Obama has gone to great lengths to protect and conceal the war crimes of recent years and to prosecute or punish whistleblowers. Drake was prosecuted unsuccessfully for leaking to the public information on the actvities of the National Security Agency. Risen is threatened with imprisonment if he does not betray his source or sources for a chapter in a book he published about an embarrassingly dumb and dangerous CIA attempt to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program. Leibowitz, too, was prosecuted for whistleblowing. And Manning, who is accused of leaking to Wikileaks more information on what our government has been doing in recent years than has been provided by any other source, has been imprisoned for the past year, often in conditions bordering on torture, without being brought to trial.
We should judge the contributions of someone like Manning for ourselves, without awaiting a government stamp of approval that may never come or may come too late. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” We will not be well-informed, however, until whistleblowers are honored rather than punished.
David Swanson, a blogger and author, graduated from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1997.
THE CONFERENCE IS AT http://MIC50.org
"Shrinking government" in American political discourse has, for decades now, meant the following. We enlarge the government's budget through taxation and penalties on working people and through borrowing and printing money. We not only tax the wealthy and corporations less, but we massively subsidize them with public funds. We move away from taxes and fees meant to limit the damage greed can do to the world, and we defund regulation of and law enforcement against the oligarchy. We transfer an ever greater share of the budget to the military. We expand the domestic and international surveillance-police states while merging the two. This, again, we call "shrinking government."
"Shrinking government" means a larger and more oppressive but less representative and less useful government. The military gets the money and gets privatized (employs non-competitive corporations working exclusively for the government). Education and public services get slashed and get privatized. Vote counting gets privatized. The privatized money gets to flow into election campaigns. The districts are re-gerrymandered with the latest modern technology. The media conglomerates get a monopoly and the monopoly limits electoral possibilities. "Shrinking government" means shrinking popular influence on government while government grows. But it grows in its ability to wage wars, occupy territories, and subsidize coal, oil, nuclear, and gas. It shrinks in its ability to give people anything in return for their taxes and fees. If this process continues it must result in ever greater repression or in revolt.
But why is THAT called "shrinking government"? It doesn't look like shrinking government.
It's called that in part because there is a movement from the right that talks about shrinking the government to a size that will permit drowning it in a bathtub. But a good portion of this movement wants to shrink everything except the military-police state, which is the most difficult thing to shrink. And the Republican politicians who co-opt this movement want to enlarge the military and police.
Perhaps more importantly, the Democrats and their loyal pseudo-activist groups want to protect or enlarge education and public services, but when it comes to the military they either want to enlarge it or are content to step aside and watch it grow. Advocates of tearing down everything useful in the government are winning, while advocates of making greater public use of government are losing, and so we talk about the "shrinking government" while the "security" budget balloons to $1.2 trillion per year.
I recently complained to the staffers of a large activist organization (which I'll be badgered for not naming, but which I am not naming because this exchange was on a confidential listserve) that they were producing television ads blaming "the Republicans" for everything. They replied that this was in fact a good way to alert the Democrats that if they became as bad as the Republicans they'd be criticized too.
How so, I asked. The Democrats split right down the middle on their votes for the Satan's Sandwich Super-Congress Budget-Destruction Deal. Half of them voted yes and half no. Didn't an ad blaming the Republicans signal to those Democrats who had voted Yes that they would have a free pass up until the moment they called themselves Republicans? Wouldn't it be better to address the government as the people, leave the parties out of it, praise those who did right, and pressure those who did wrong?
Oh no, I was told, nothing critical must be said of the government, because the right-wing position is that government is bad and must be "shrunk"; the good liberal position is that government is good.
But hold on a second, I replied, are you actually suggesting that the government isn't broken? We've got 85% of the country believing correctly that our government is broken, and you want to pretend it's working in order to avoid "shrinking" it?
The reply I received was that I was adopting a right-wing discourse by speaking of "government" in a manner that did not include firefighters and sanitation workers.
We can't notice that our government is destroying the planet as a habitable space, slaughtering people, and impoverishing us because there are still fire fighters who put out fires and sanitation workers who clean streets (even though they sometimes now stand and watch houses burn, and even though they are being defunded by the part of the government that funds and defunds things)? The fact is that the government is broken. Any reality-based politics has to start there. The majority of Americans understand the solution to that problem as creating better government. It's only an obnoxious and intimidating fringe group that believes "government is broken" leads inevitably to "shrink government."
And so, we talk about the "shrinking government" because nobody will talk about the breaking government from the left. Not just groups, but individuals as well, have embedded their souls in the Democratic Party. They can only bring themselves to criticize the Republican Party while maintaining that, after all, the government is doing a pretty good job, even when the government is dominated by Republicans and right-wing Democrats who are at least as far to the right as the Republicans. This incoherence is created by liberal civilians, not presidential broken promises or pre-compromises or lack of resolve.
This is where hurricanes and earthquakes come in. "Shrinking government" is never going to get the thing down to the size that can be drowned in a bathtub, because it keeps growing as it "shrinks." But oil wars, fracking, clean coal, safe nukes, global warming, and the weirding of the weather are going to reach our government where its most sensitive nerves are situated: in its ass. The Pentagon sits along the Potomac River, and that river can do more damage than an airplane. The slaves who built the U.S. Capitol and White House did not employ the latest earthquake-resistant technology. No array of metal-detectors, cancer-radiators, groping guards, or concrete barriers can withstand the quaking of the earth.
When the plagues of locusts reach Washington, no transformation to democracy will immediately result. The billions of dollars lost won't be credited to the renewable-energy side of the public ledger. The coastal homes of the gazillionaires will be rebuilt at public expense. Eric Cantor's district will suck down plenty of socialistic disaster relief. The Pentagon will be protected in ways that New Orleans just doesn't deserve. The machine will be oiled and tuned up and keep on rolling along.
But the chance of the public actively and effectively resisting ( http://october2011.org ) will increase, and the chance of certain Congress Members finding their consciences unprompted will increase as well.
I'm not hoping for natural disasters; and hoping for natural disasters doesn't actually cause them. I'm suggesting that as they come in greater strength and frequency, we be prepared to speak honestly about what is needed. It's not shrinking or growing the government. It's not rebuilding dreams or retaking parties or winning the future.
What's needed is independent resolve that government of, by, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.
On July 30th the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party passed a resolution proposing that a primary challenge be offered to Obama next year. The Progressive Caucus's certification expired at the same time, and while other caucuses were routinely recertified that day by the state party, the Progressive Caucus (I'm told by its chair, Karen Bernal) would not have been, had a vote been held. So the recertification was tabled, and the Progressive Caucus is in limbo. It no longer exists, but it may yet continue existing.
I asked Karen Bernal about the resolution and the response to it on Sunday. Here's that audio: mp3.
Here's the resolution:
RESOLUTION in SUPPORT of a POSSIBLE 2012 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CHALLENGE
Passed July 30, 2011
WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the challenge presented by President Obama’s negotiating away Democratic Party principles to extremist Republicans, we are challenged by President Obama in the following ways:
• His unilateral closed-door budget offer to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which endangers the New Deal and War on Poverty safety nets.
• His determination to escalate U.S. militarism through illegal secret CIA drone attacks and unauthorized wars.
• His willingness to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and bail out big banks without ending the foreclosure crisis that displaces American working families.
• His insistence on pushing a health insurance bill which enriches private insurance companies while ignoring growing support for single-payer health care or robust public options.
• His continuance of President Bush’s assault on civil liberties with an extension of the repressive Patriot Act.
• His failure to restore due process, including the protection of whistleblowers and habeas corpus.
• His numerous failures to adhere to international law.
• The continuing practice of nationwide FBI raids of anti-war progressive protestors.
• His decision to increase the arrests and deportations of undocumented workers.
• His facilitation of the privatizing of the public sphere, which includes education and housing, among others.
• His disregard of his promises to the Labor movement.
• His failure to adequately protect the environment and adequately address climate change.
WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the historical significance of the Eugene McCarthy/Robert F. Kennedy anti-war challenge to President Lyndon Johnson. The challenge followed President Johnson’s decision to escalate U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, betraying his campaign promise to end a war that polarized America. Similarly, we recognize the danger and betrayal that the current “Grand Bargain” represents to the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signature gift to all Americans, Social Security and the New Deal, a point of pride for all Democrats.
WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party is committed to the understanding that an interest in a 2012 Democratic presidential primary challenge will not interfere with President Obama’s ability to govern and not limit his ability to do so in ways that include invoking Constitutional options, we recognize that this will, in fact, raise debate on important issues without risking the ability to mobilize and energize the base of the Democratic Party to elect a triumphant leader to counter the far-right agenda.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, to make our views heard, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party will begin the process of contacting other Democratic organizations, Democratic Party members and public organizations that share our views on the issues and which seek to alter the course of history by exploring other steps to effect a necessary change, including a possible primary challenge to President Obama.
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.
Charlottesville is not "a military town" except in the sense that every town in the United States is now. Other towns in Virginia have big bases; men and women in uniforms are a common sight. But look more closely, and Charlottesville is the home, as almost everywhere is, to some obscure branch of the military -- in this case the "National Ground Intelligence Center." We're also home to a university. Most universities these days are huge recipients of military contracts, and UVA is no exception. In fact, the University of Virginia has built a research "park" adjacent to the aforementioned "intelligence" center. There's a Judge Advocate General's Legal Center attached to UVA Law School as well.
Back in March, the New Yorker magazine noted that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) "invited interested literary theorists, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, and related 'ists' to the Boar's Head Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month to answer a question frequently posed to junior-high-school students: 'What is a story?'" DARPA is the same agency that has moved on from mechanical killer elephants and telepathic warfare to exploding frisbees, cyborg wasps, and Captain America no-meals and no-sleep soldiers.
Many people in Charlottesville, as elsewhere, aren't asking "What is a story?" so much as "Where do I get a job?" But most of the jobs paying anything above poverty wages that can be found at local job fairs are military industry jobs. This includes both jobs supporting the U.S. military and jobs providing weapons to dictatorships and democracies alike all over the world. The United States is far and away the leading seller of weapons to others. The two sides in the Libyan War can exchange parts in their weapons, because both have weapons made by us.
I've seen local job ads for the National Guard, and for work "researching biological and chemical weapons" at Battelle Memorial Institute, and for work producing all kinds of weaponry at Northrop Grumman. Then there's Teksystems, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Pragmatics, and Wiser, and many others with fat Pentagon contracts. Employers also recruit here for jobs in Northern Virginia with Concurrent Technologies Corporation, Ogsystems, the Defense Logistics Agency, BAE Systems, and many more. BAE, by the way, paid a $400 million fine last year to the U.S. government to settle charges of having bribed Saudi Arabia to buy its weapons -- just the cost of doing business.
From 2000 to 2010, 161 military contractors in Charlottesville pulled in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government. Over $8 million of that went to Mr. Jefferson's university, and three-quarters of that to the Darden Business School. And the trend is ever upward. The 161 contractors are found in various industries other than higher education, including: Nautical System and Instrument Manufacturing; Blind and Shade Manufacturing; Printed Circuit Assembly; Computer Systems Design; Real Estate Appraisers; Engineering Services; Recreational Sports Centers; Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences; Commercial and Institutional Building Construction; Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing; Sporting Goods Stores; Professional and Management Development Training; Research and Development in Biotechnology; New Car Dealers; Internet Publishing; Petroleum Merchant Wholesalers; and on and on and on. I think I mentioned Pig Daddy's BBQ.
What could be wrong with so much socialistic job creation? Well, just this: investing money through the military actually produces fewer and lower paying jobs than investing the same amount of money in most other industries, or even in tax cuts for working people. It's worse economically than nothing, and yet it's all Washington wants to do. We are putting over half of every dollar of federal income tax and borrowing into the military. We could cut this by 85% and still be the top-spending nation in the world militarily. Meanwhile we are failing to invest in infrastructure, green energy, education, housing, jobs, and care for our young, old, and ill. The current trend will ruin us economically, as well as in terms of civil liberties, representative government, environmental destruction, social cohesion, hostile blowback, and weapons proliferation. Reining in the military industrial complex has become a matter of survival.
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. We're shortchanging everything else to fund wars and overseas bases that make us less safe. There's a crisis in our towns, but in the midst of a phony budget crisis in Washington, the House this summer passed the largest military budget ever seen on the planet.
On September 16-18, 2011, in Charlottesville, a conference called "The Military Industrial Complex at 50" ( http://MIC50.org ) will welcome over 20 prominent speakers, strategists, and organizers. Plans will be developed to move money from the military to human needs.
David Swanson is the author of "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 activist organization http://rootsaction.org
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Member since Mon Mar 22nd 2004
Charlottesville, VA, USA
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 activist organization http://rootsaction.org
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