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The War on Marriage on Christmas

1:16 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Very rarely does our government ask us what to have a war on. The proposal for missile strikes into Syria was a rare occasion when public pressure and other factors compelled Congress to demand a say. Public pressure then compelled Congress to say No.

A peace protest. Sign: Another Mother for Peace

What if We The People actually got to vote for peace or war?

But daily drone buzzings over various nations aren’t occasions for public debate. We aren’t being asked about another decade in Afghanistan or cooking up a future war on Iran. And our current president and his predecessor combined have wiped out eight wedding parties (six in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and one in Yemen earlier this month) without our having ever been asked about any of them.

What if we were?

There are various ways a debate over whether to launch a war could go. In a highly-informed debate, we might investigate whether a war would violate the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the U.N. Charter, and the U.S. Constitution. We might ask how many adults, children, and infants would likely be killed, injured, and traumatized, how many refugees created, what sort of environmental damage, what economic cost, what erosion of our civil liberties, what heightened secrecy in government, what increase in violence throughout our culture and the country attacked, what likely blowback for decades to come, and what obvious alternatives are available to violence. But, of course, if we asked all that, then we’d never have any wars.

In a more plausible scenario, we might expect a debate to squeeze its way onto our televisions that would ask questions like: How many U.S. troops will die? How much will it cost? Why are we on the same side as al Qaeda this time?  How will it end once begun?  How does bombing more people express our support for suffering people? Or, depending on the circumstances, maybe even this: Haven’t we been arming that dictator for decades — why the urgency to overthrow him now?

But how would a debate over whether to send hellfire missiles screaming into a wedding party look? What if such a debate were to develop in our news media this Christmas season?

In areas of frequent drone strikes, people are often afraid to get together in large numbers. In Yemen, parents resort to home schooling for fear of letting their children out of the house.  Few and far between are the events deemed important enough to risk violating that rule. One such event is a wedding.

How much, we might hear our pundits ask, could be saved by killing 15 people at a wedding as opposed to killing them each separately? (If the missiles alone cost $1 million each, the answer is well over $14 million.) What element of surprise might be gained in obliterating people whose minds are distracted by love and friendship and an important right rite of passage? What fear and respect might be placed into the minds of the survivors? Let’s say one of the wedding couple survives and the other doesn’t; which one would it be most desirable to let live? Does it matter what kind of dress the bride is wearing? Should fashion consultants be brought in by the Pentagon, or should morning talk shows contribute that analysis as part of their patriotic duty? Should the missiles hit just as little kids bearing flowers enter the scene?

The debate may sound absurd, but its creation would actually be a significant step toward sound government. We ought to vote on or be represented by officials who vote on important decisions for us. We ought to be informed, engaged, and consulted. Therefore, a debate before the next wedding strike is a perfectly reasonable proposal — unless of course we’re going to unilaterally stop blowing up weddings. Far be it from me to suggest anything that rash.

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Paging Santa’s Puppet Repair: Pentagon on Line 1

1:06 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Vice Deputy Under Elf for Hearts and Minds: Good Afternoon, this is the Vice Deputy Under Elf for Hearts and Minds, how may I bring you joy?

Santa Claus

Even Santa has to answer to the US Government.

Anonymous Pentagon Official: Cut the crap, Nils, you know why I’m calling.

VDUEHM: You’ve got me confused with the big man, Chuck. I can’t see you even when you’re awake.

APO: We’re providing your sled with fighter jet escort in a $3 billion promotional video, Nils, and this is the 218th — count ‘em, Nils — the 218th defective puppet you’ve given us, under warranty, and your people — if I may call the little goblins “people” — are not helping.

VDUEHM: What is the name and serial number of the puppet?

APO: The hell you think his name is? Hamid Frickin Karzai, you third-rate bureaucratic … you can’t even see over a bureau, can you? You know what, Nils, if your big man had given us a reasonably small sack of coal instead of each and every puppet we’ve ever picked up on Christmas morning, we’d … we’d … well, we’d have had to think up an entirely different reason for our wars, that’s what!

VDUEHM: Please state the difficulty you are experiencing with the puppet.

APO: I don’t have all damn day here, Nils. You want the full list?  Let me put it to you this way. Remember that last puppet, Maliki, who you claimed was not under warranty …

VDUEHM: When you intentionally, maliciously, or negligently destroy the puppet’s primary or temporary nation or society, the warranty is voided in its entirety, as found in rule number …

APO: You can imagine where I might suggest you stick that rule book, Nils. Tell me this: who is your best customer in the entire world?

VDUEHM: The innocent child who wishes good only for others and experiences a depth of gratitude …

APO: Who’s your second best customer?

VDUEHM: We give presents, Chuck. Did you think you’d dialed Saudi Arabia? I can have someone connect you. Please hold …

APO: Hold on! Hold on! My god! Whose chestnuts do you have to roast to get some service around here?

VDUEHM: Please state the difficulty you are experiencing with the puppet.

APO: He’s refusing to sign on for 10 more years and beyond.

VDUEHM: Beyond what?

APO: Beyond the next 10 years.

VDUEHM: So, why don’t you just call it “indefinitely”? Why mention 10 years if you’re going to add “and beyond”?

APO: You wouldn’t understand marketing, Nils. You give stuff away, remember?

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