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Drowning on Wall Street and Ending World War II

7:21 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Imagine if George W. Bush had stood on the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center and declared, “We are going to continue our pursuit of world domination and environmental destruction until the oceans rise, the storms surge, and this spot and all the surrounding streets are drowned in routine floods, destroying the infrastructure, and collapsing the buildings of this great city, while you morons are distracted by my screams for vengeance and genocide against people who’ve never driven an SUV a block in their lives or ever heard of us.”

America's Deadliest Export: Democracy cover

America's Deadliest Export: Democracy

Imagine if Barack “Clean Coal” Obama had followed the same honest path, and not only competed with Mitt Romney in debates over who could drill more oil, but also stated plainly and openly that the Pentagon is still not ready for World War II to end.

On August 14, 1941, the military brought before the Senate plans to build a permanent building that would be the largest office building in the world and would be called the Pentagon.  Senator Arthur Vandenberg asked for an explanation: “Unless the war is to be permanent, why must we have permanent accommodations for war facilities of such size?” Then he began to catch on: “Or is the war to be permanent?”

We weren’t supposed to have standing armies, much less armies standing in everyone else’s countries, much less armies fighting wars over the control of fuels that destroy the planet and armies that themselves consume the greatest quantity of those fuels, even though the armies lose all the wars.  Before the Nobel Peace Prize was handed out to war makers, it was intended for those who had done the best work of removing standing armies from the world.  World War II changed everything.

We never went back to pre-WWII taxes or pre-WWII military or pre-WWII restraint in foreign empire or pre-WWII respect for civil liberties or pre-WWII notions of who deserved a Nobel Peace Prize.  We never saw another declaration of war from Congress, but we never stopped using those of 1941, never left Germany, never left Japan, never dismantled the Pentagon.  Instead, as William Blum documents in his remarkable new book, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, since the supposed end of WWII, the United States has tried to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of them democratically elected; interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders; dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries; and attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 nations.

Oh, but we meant well, and we mean well.  Absolutely not so.  There’s no “we” involved here.  The U.S. government meant and means global domination, nothing else.  And yet, even foreigners buy the U.S. snake oil.  Gaddafi thought he could please Washington and be spared.  So did the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein.  When Hugo Chavez heard about the coup planned against him in 2002, he sent a representative to Washington to plead his case.  The coup went ahead just the same.  Subcomandante Marcos believed Washington would support the Zapatistas once it understood who they were.  Ho Chi Minh had seen behind the curtain when Woodrow Wilson was president; World War II didn’t change quite everything.  Maurice Bishop of Grenada, Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana, and the foreign minister of Guatemala appealed to Washington for peace before the Pentagon overthrew their governments.  “We” don’t mean well when we threaten war on Iran any more than we meant well when “we” overthrew Iran’s government in 1953.  The U.S. government has the very same agenda it had in 1953 because it is still engaged in the very same war, the war without end.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Environmental Antiwar Movement

3:09 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Events in South Korea are putting U.S. and international environmental groups into coalition with antiwar groups, and in rare opposition to one of the most environmentally destructive forces on earth: the military industrial complex.

Normally, this doesn’t happen.  Typically, civil liberties groups oppose the detention and torture and assassination that come with military spending, but not the spending and not the wars.  Typically, anti-poverty and pro-education groups lament the supposed lack of funding, but avoid all mention of our dumping 57% of federal discretionary funds into war preparation and war.  Typically, for environmental groups, our top consumer of oil, producer of superfund sites, and poisoner of the earth is off-limits.  We oppose pollution, but not pollution in the cause of killing people more quickly.

Jeju Island, South Korea, is changing this.  A coordinated international campaign is trying to save this beautiful island from destruction.  The World Conservation Congress 2012 is being held on Jeju Island — while just four miles away, in the island’s Gangjeong Village, construction is beginning on a massive new naval base to be used by the United States.  Dredging of the seabed and coral has already begun.  94% of the residents of Gangjeong Village have voted against construction of the base.

The extraordinary biological diversity, unique volcanic topography, and the culture of Jeju Island attract many tourists. The Sea of Gangjeong is a national cultural treasure adjacent to a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Only 114 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins remain in Korea, and they live here — one of many species threatened by base construction. The damage will be devastating.

If the base is constructed, it will host nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, as well as Aegis missile-carrying warships. U.S. taxpayers will pay the cost of the Obama administration “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific, while Jeju Islanders pay with a damaged home. Ultimately, the cost to the earth and the risk of war will belong to all of us.

Villagers have been arrested during nonviolent protests. Police and construction workers have assaulted elderly members of the community, who represent a large portion of the activists.  Raising our voices in solidarity is the least we can do.  But Samsung, the primary contractor for base construction, is sponsoring the World Conservation Congress (WCC), which opened pretending all was well.  That pretense is crumbling.

From afar, we are flooding the WCC and Samsung with emails.  You can help” Let them know we aren’t fooled. Demand that Samsung halt construction and the WCC oppose the base.

On location, activists have made every single participant in the World Conservation Congress aware of the destruction underway on the island where the WCC is meeting. And a resolution is being introduced by 34 organizations from around the world calling for a halt to the military base construction.

Please take the time to read this resolution, and check out the list of signers.  This is how the military industrial complex will eventually do itself in.

World Appeal to Protect the People, Nature, Culture and Heritage of Gangjeong Village

UNDERSTANDING that Gangjeong Village, also known as the Village of Water, on the island of Jeju, also known as Peace Island, is a coastal area home to thousands of species of plants and animals, lava rock freshwater tide pools (“Gureombi”), endangered soft coral reefs, freshwater springs, sacred natural sites, historic burial grounds, and nearly 2,000 indigenous villagers, including farmers, fishermen, and Haenyo women divers, that have lived sustainably with the surrounding marine and terrestrial environment for nearly 4000 years;

NOTING that Gangjeong Village is an Ecological Excellent Village (Ministry of Environment, ROK) of global, regional, national and local significance, sharing the island with a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve and Global Geological Park, and is in close proximity to three World Heritage Sites and numerous other protected areas;

NOTING that numerous endangered species live in and around Gangjeong Village, including the Boreal Digging Frog (Kaloula borealis) listed on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species; the red-footed crab (Sesarma intermedium); the endemic Jeju fresh water shrimp (Caridina denticulate keunbaei); and the nearly extinct Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins;

NOTING the global uniqueness of the Jeju Soft Coral habitats, designated as Natural Monument 422 of Korea: the only location in the world known to have temperate octocoral species forming a flourishing ecosystem on a substrate of andesite, providing ecological balance to the Jeju marine environment and the development of the human culture of Gangjeong Village for thousands of years;

UNDERSCORING that of the 50 coral species found in the Soft Coral habitats near Gangjeong, 27 are indigenous species, and at least 16 are endangered species and protected according to national and international law, including Dendronephthya suensoni, D. putteri, Tubastraea coccinea, Myriopathes japonica, and M. lata;

THEREFORE CONCERNED of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners;

NOTING the referendum of Gangjeong Village on August 20, 2007, in which 725 villagers participated and 94% opposed the construction;

ACKNOWLEDGING that the construction of the military installation is directly and irreparably harming not only the biodiversity, but the culture, economy and general welfare of Gangjeong Village, one of the last living remnants of traditional Jeju culture;

NOTING the Absolute Preservation Act, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province (1991) and that Gangjeong Village was named an Absolute Preservation Area on October 27, 2004: a permanent designation to conserve the original characteristics of an environment from the surge in development, therefore prohibiting construction, the alteration of form and quality of land, and the reclamation of public water areas;

CONCERNED that this title was removed in 2010 to allow for the Naval installation, and that this step backwards in environmental protection violates the Principle of Non-Regression;

RECALLING the numerous IUCN Resolutions and Recommendations that note, recognize, promote and call for the appropriate implementation of conservation policies and practices that respect the human rights, roles, cultural diversity, and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in accordance with international agreements;

CONCERNED of reports that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the naval construction was inaccurate and incomplete and may have violated well-known principles of international law concerning EIAs, transparency, public and indigenous participation, right to know, and free, prior and informed consent;

CONCERNED of the destruction of sacred natural sites in and near Gangjeong Village, noting that the protection of sacred natural sites is one of the oldest forms of culture based conservation (Res. 4.038 recognition and conservation of sacred natural sites in Protected Areas);

ACKNOWLEDGING that IUCN’s Mission is “To influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable;” and that “equity cannot be achieved without the promotion, protection and guarantee of human rights.”;

NOTING Resolution 3.022 Endorsement of the Earth Charter (Bangkok, 2004) that endorsed the Earth Charter as “the ethical guide for IUCN policy and programme,” and that the military installation is contrary to every principle of the Earth Charter;

NOTING the U.N. World Charter for Nature (1982), and that the military installation is contrary to each of its five principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged;

AND ALARMED by reports of political prisoners, deportations, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech, including the arrests of religious leaders, for speaking against the naval installation and for speaking in promotion of local, national, regional and world conservation and human rights protections;

NOTING Res. 2.37 Support for environmental defenders, “UNDERSTANDING that the participation of non-governmental organizations and individual advocates is essential to the fundamentals of civil society to assure the accountability of governments and multinational corporations; and AWARE that a nation’s environment is only truly protected when concerned citizens are involved in the process;”

NOTING principles enshrined in the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development such as those concerning military and hostile activities (Art. 36), culture and natural heritage (Art. 26), and the collective rights of indigenous peoples (Art. 15);

FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING that militarization does not justify the destruction of a community, a culture, endangered species or fragile ecosystems;

AND UNDERSCORING that IUCN’s aim is to promote a just world that values and conserves nature, and the organization sees itself as nature’s representative and patrons of nature;

The IUCN World Conservation Congress at its 5th session in Jeju, Republic of Korea, 6-15 September 2012:

1. REAFFIRMS its commitment to the UN World Charter for Nature and the Earth Charter;
2. CALLS ON the Republic of Korea to:
(a) immediately stop the construction of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty;
(b) invite an independent body, to prepare a fully transparent scientific, cultural, and legal assessment of the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area and make it available to the public; and
(c) fully restore the damaged areas.

Sponsor – Center for Humans and Nature
Co-Sponsors
-Chicago Zoological Society (USA)
-International Council of Environmental Law (Germany)
-El Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental, CEDA (Ecuador)
-Sierra Club (USA)
-Fundacion Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Argentina)
-Center for Sustainable Development CENESTA (Iran)
-Asociación Preserve Planet (Costa Rica)
-The Christensen Fund (USA)
-Terra Lingua (Canada)
-Ecological Society of the Philippines (Philippines)
-Citizen’s Institute Environmental Studies (Korea)
-Departamento de Ambiente, Paz y Seguridad, Universidad para la Paz (Costa Rica)
-Coastal Area Resource Development and Management Association (Bangladesh)
-Fundação Vitória Amazônica (Brazil)
-Fundación para el Desarrollo de Alternativas Comunitarias de Conservación del Trópico, ALTROPICO Foundation (Ecuador)
-Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (Ecuador)
-EcoCiencia (Ecuador)
-Fundación Hábitat y Desarrollo de Argentina (Argentina)
-Instituto de Montaña (Peru)
-Asociación Peruana para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, APECO (Peru)
-Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, COICA (Ecuador)
-Fundación Biodiversidad (Argentina)
-Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica (Brazil)
-Fundación Urundei (Brazil)
-Dipartimento Interateneo Territorio Politecnico e Università di Torino (Italy)
-Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas (Costa Rica)
-Corporación Grupo Randi Randi (Ecuador)
-Living Oceans Society (Canada)
-Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental (Paraguay)
-Korean Society of Restoration Ecology (Korea)
-Ramsar Network Japan (Japan)
-The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (Isreal)
-Chimbo Foundation (Netherlands)
-Endangered Wildlife Trust (South Africa)

Add your voice.

How Newt Gingrich Saved the Military Industrial Complex

6:46 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

The idea of economic conversion, of retooling and retraining pieces of the military industrial complex to build what other wealthy nations have (infrastructure, energy, education, etc.) converged with the end of the Cold War two decades back.  It was time for a peace dividend as well as a little sanity in public spending.  Among the cosponsors of a bill to begin economic conversion in the late 1980s was a guy by the name of Leon Panetta.

Standing in the way was Congressman Newt Gingrich (Republican, Lockheed Martin).

As Mary Beth Sullivan recounts ( http://MIC50.org ),

“On the first day of the opening of the 101st Congress, Speaker [Jim] Wright convened a meeting of members who had proposed economic conversion legislation, and their aids.  The purpose was to ensure that all proposals be joined into one, and that this legislation be given priority.  To dramatize the importance of this bill, it would be given number H.R. 101.”

Seymour Melman, a leading proponent of the bill recounts what happened:

“Supporters of such an initiative did not reckon with the enormous power of those opposed to any such move toward economic conversion.  In the weeks that followed, these vested interests waged a concerted and aggressive campaign in Congress and the national media to bring down Jim Wright over allegations of financial misconduct.”

“The allegations,” Sullivan writes, “had little substance, but Newt Gingrich, representing a headquarters district of Lockheed Martin, led the Republican attack.  Sadly, they won.  According to Melman, ‘Their media campaign drowned out any further discussion of economic conversion …  A historic opportunity had been destroyed.”

The military industrial complex survived and thrived and is growing even to this moment with plans to grow on into the foreseeable future, even as we’re falsely told it’s being cut back.  Our nation trails others in the areas of education, health, retirement security, life expectancy, infant mortality, environmental sustainability, poverty, and — in so far as anyone has measured it — happiness.  Instead we have a military that costs as much as the rest of the world’s put together, and much of the rest of the world’s is purchased from our weapons makers.  We have aircraft carriers, bombs, missiles, helicopters, bases, drones, and billionaires to make up for our crappy schools and lousy trains.

While I understand how exciting Newt Gingrich’s sex life may be, there may be other things he has to answer for as well.

There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave the Military Industrial Complex

7:35 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

And we heard all of them from two dozen brilliant speakers during a three-day conference this past weekend.  If you missed it, the video is all online.

So is the text of many of the papers presented. Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite: Read the rest of this entry →

Can We Love Both Peace and War?

5:09 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

By David Swanson | The Hook

The general who led the Allies at D-Day used his farewell speech as a two-term president to decry "the military-industrial complex" (And deficit spending)

If I told you I would support women’s rights as long as I didn’t have to oppose rape, you’d think I needed lessons in both logic and basic human decency. If I said I would favor freedom as long as I didn’t have to be against slavery, you might start backing away slowly.

Yet on September 1st, in a statement that’s anything but out of the ordinary, the Daily Progress reported Charlottesville School Board Member Ned Michie’s objection to a resolution in support of events celebrating the International Day of Peace:

“I’m all in favor of peace and non-violence,” Michie said, “but, for instance… to the extent that any of the events are really sort of anti-war events, I’m not necessarily comfortable with supporting that.”

It’s a funny thing about peace and war: you really do have to choose between them.  They don’t mix any better than freedom and slavery. You can’t favor peace without opposing war. In fact, you can’t support peace without opposing the machinery that makes wars likely.  And that machinery is all over Charlottesville, where it provides many local residents with jobs.

Nonetheless, job creation is something else you can’t support without opposing what President Dwight Eisenhower 50 years ago warned of as the “military-industrial complex.”

How can that be? Let me explain.

Charlottesville is home to the National Ground Intelligence Center, now north of town but previously downtown in what became the SNL Financial building. The new location for NGIC also accommodates the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency and the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency. The University of Virginia has built a research park next door. There’s a Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center attached to UVA Law School as well. Then there’s the Virginia National Guard, which does tend to guard nations, just not this one. Read the rest of this entry →

Us or the War Machine

6:07 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

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

Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse 

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.

THE CONFERENCE IS HERE: http://MIC50.org Read the rest of this entry →

Audio: David Swanson and Coy Barefoot on the Military Industrial Complex

2:13 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Charlottesville Right Now (Subscribe)
Charlottesville Right Now: 8-29-11 David Swanson
David Swansonjoins Charlottesville Right Now to discuss excessive defense expenditures.

LISTEN

Virginia Militarized

8:39 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

By David Swanson with Shepherd Johnson

The U.S. military is a permanent and pervasive presence in Virginia. Were the state of Virginia to ban participation in wars of aggression, weapons sales to brutal dictatorships, and the manufacture of aggressive and illegal weapons, the Military Industrial Complex would be obliged to help itself to many billions of public dollars just to cover the cost of moving operations to the other 49 states or abroad.

The Pentagon and all of its surrounding weapons corporation headquarters are in Virginia. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lives in Quarters Six at Fort Myer in Arlington. The Army and Air Force chiefs of staff live on “Generals Row,” also in Fort Myer.

Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base. NATO is there too. And through this month, so is the United States Joint Forces Command.

The Army maintains major commands in Virginia as well, including the United States Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, and the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis.


National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly. Read the rest of this entry →

The Military: Closer to You Than Your Family

8:25 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

"my neighborhood"

"my neighborhood" by woodleywonderworks on flickr

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. Read the rest of this entry →

Military Industrial Complex at 50 – A National Conference

5:37 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

A Conference on Moving Money from the Military to Human Needs — http://micat50cville.org

Reserve your spot to attend this conference now!  The fees increase after September 1st: Register.

Over 20 speakers will lead the discussion, planning, and organizing.  Speakers will include retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, author Bruce Levine, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and former Pentagon desk officer Karen Kwiatkowski, author Robert Jensen, international affairs analyst Helena Cobban, retired CIA officer Ray McGovern, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space Bruce Gagnon, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee Shahid Buttar, author and West Point graduate Paul Chappell, and many more.  See additional speakers and agenda.

In Charlottesville, as around the country, increasingly the best place to look for a job is in the military-weapons-logistics-spying-reconstruction industry.  There were 161 military contractors in Charlottesville taking in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government between 2000 to 2010.  And the trend is ever upward, the budget “crisis” notwithstanding.

This flood of money creates jobs less efficiently than investment in most other industries or even tax cuts.  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 MIC has become a matter of survival.

We can and must turn this around!

Reserve your spot to attend this conference now!  The fees increase after September 1st: Register.

The low registration fees (just $30 or $15 for students) are made possible by sponsorships and donations from those who are able.

Sponsor this conference as an organization or an individual.

Volunteer to help before or during the conference.

Offer a guestroom in your Charlottesville home for one of our speakers or another participant from out of town.

Coming from out of town?

WHEN: September 16-18, 2011

WHERE:

  • Friday, September 16, 2011, at the Haven, 112 W Market Street, Charlottesville, Va. Map.
  • Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, 2011, at The Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College, 501 County Road 338, Charlottesville, Va. 22902-7589. Map.

Learn more:
http://micat50cville.org