Ike Warned Us 8/12/15

Which U.S. Senators Want War on Iran

By David Swanson

David Swanson

David Swanson

Let’s do the count:

Senators rallying and whipping their colleagues to support the Iran agreement: 0

Senators admitting that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program and has never threatened or been a threat to the United States: 0

Senators pushing the false idea that Iran is a nuclear threat but indicating they will vote to support the agreement precisely in order to counter that threat: 16

(Tammy Baldwin, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Martin Heinrich, Tim Kaine, Angus King, Patrick Leahy, Chris Murphy, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Bernie Sanders, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren)

Republican (and “Libertarian”) senators indicating they will try to kill the agreement, thereby moving the United States toward a war on Iran: 54

(All of them.)

Democratic senators inspired during the ghastly Republican debate Thursday night to announce that they will try to kill the deal (and would rather have a war): 1

(Charles Schumer)

Democratic senators who haven’t clearly stated a position: 29

The number of those 29 who would have to join Schumer to kill the agreement and set the United States on a path toward self-isolation, international disgrace, and disastrous illegal immoral catastrophic war that will make Iraq and Afghanistan look like diplomacy: 12

Can the people of America keep the agreement protected from such a fate? Of course we can. We’ve been stopping a war on Iran for many years now. We stopped it in 2007. Such things never enter U.S. history books, but wars are stopped all the time. In 2013, the push for a massive bombing campaign on Syria was hard and absolutely bipartisan, yet public pressure played the key role in stopping it.

Now we have the White House on our side for heavens-sake. When Obama wants a horrible corporate trade agreement fast tracked or a supplemental war spending bill rammed through or a “healthcare” bill passed, he twists arms and offers bribes, he gives rides on his airplane, and he sends cabinet secretaries to do special favor PR events in districts. If he really wants this, he’ll hardly need our help. So one strategy we need to keep after is making clear he knows we expect this of him.

Senator Sanders has a gazillion fans now, and something like all but three of them believe he is a hero for peace. If you’re a Bernie supporter, you can urge him to rally his colleagues to protect the Iran agreement. He is still a Senator, not just a Hillary-challenger.

In states like Virginia, where one senator is taking the right position and one is keeping quiet, urge the first one (Kaine) to lobby the other one (Warner).

Would-be senators like Alan Grayson who want people to think of them as rational and peace-loving, but who have been pushing to kill the deal since before Schumer sprouted claws, should be lobbied and challenged everywhere they appear.

Schumer himself should not be permitted to appear in public without protest of his warmongering.

Just as in the summer of 2013, most senators and house members are going to be at public events in the coming weeks. Email and call them here. That’s easy. That’s the least anyone can do. And it had an impact last time in 2013. But also find out where they will be (senators and representatives both) and be there in small or large numbers to demand No War On Iran.

What forces work to influence these Senators? War industry lobbyists. There are 718 of them representing 196 massive corporate contractors and they spend between $100 million-200 million annually to generate the federal elected official votes that give them hundreds of $billions of warmaking business each year. This is not a tricky case to understand; the evidence passed by a circumstantial point years ago when Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about it in his Farewell Address.

Also, the Israel lobby has much of Congress bought and paid for. But the public is turning against it, and you can shame its servants.

In the long run, it’s useful to remember that lies do not set us free.

If both proponents and opponents of the agreement depict Iran falsely as a nuclear threat, the danger of a U.S. war on Iran is going to continue, with or without the deal. The deal could end with the election of a new president or Congress. Ending the agreement could be the first act of a Republican president or a Schumerian Democratic Leader.

So, don’t just urge the right vote while pushing the propaganda. Oppose the propaganda as well.

David Swanson writes for PeaceVoice, is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie.

Lyme and Baby Chicks 7/29/15

David Swanson

David Swanson

NBC Dares Mention Climate in Spread of Lyme Disease, But Not Who Created Lyme Disease

By David Swanson

Climate change is apparently encouraging the spread of Lyme disease, and a report by NBC News dares to say so. This may seem like a fresh breath of honest sanity in a media context in which even the weather reports usually avoid the topic of human global destruction.

However, another topic is clearly still off limits: the topic of who created Lyme disease.

Who created it is not in any real doubt. The facts have been well reported and never refuted.

The relevance of the disease’s creators to this and numerous other news reports about Lyme disease is indisputable. If you’re going to report on what’s facilitating the disease’s spread, you should report on what started it, and how it was intentionally created to spread and why.

That NBC News knows the information is easily shown. In 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory. He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on MSNBC and on NBC’s Today Show (where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection). Lab 257 hit the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

And what did that book say?

Less than two miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.

Deer frequently swim between Long Island and Plum Island; there’s not any dispute about that fact.

Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. “Ticks,” Carroll writes, “find baby chicks irresistible.”

In July of 1975 a brand new disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. It wasn’t a disease that gradually grew and finally attracted attention. It was 12 cases of a disease that, as far as anyone knows, had never been seen before. Scientists’ efforts to find it in the past haven’t gotten any further than the 1940s in the areas right around Plum Island.

And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors. After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s. Even the indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight. And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.

By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.

Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease — and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

So, by all means blame ExxonMobil and all the other climate liars, and their servants in government, for the spread of Lyme disease, among other horrors. But save a little blame for the military industrial complex. Either it murdered the victims of Lyme disease, or — if you believe in the nobility of its mission — then perhaps we’d better say they are collateral damage.

David Swanson writes for PeaceVoice, and is director of WorldBeyondWar.org.

Believing the Opposite 7/15/15

Document Shows CIA Reaction to Finding No WMD in Iraq

By David Swanson

David Swanson

David Swanson

The National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents, one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military.

Duelfer was appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a massive search after an earlier massive search led by David Kay had determined that there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Duelfer went to work in January 2004, to find nothing for a second time, on behalf of people who had launched a war knowing full well that their own statements about WMDs were not true.

The fact that Duelfer states quite clearly that he found none of the alleged WMD stockpiles cannot be repeated enough, with 42 percent of Americans still believing the opposite.

A New York Times story last October about the remnants of a long-abandoned chemical weapons program has been misused and abused to advance misunderstanding.

Duelfer is also clear that Saddam Hussein’s government had accurately denied having WMD, contrary to a popular U.S. myth that Hussein had hidden stores of them.

The fact that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their team knowingly lied cannot be overemphasized. This group took the testimony of Hussein Kamel regarding weapons he’d said had been destroyed years ago, and used it as if he’d said they currently existed. This team used forged documents to allege a uranium purchase. They used claims about aluminum tubes that had been rejected by all of their own usual experts. They “summarized” a National Intelligence Estimate that said Iraq was unlikely to attack unless attacked to say nearly the opposite in a “white paper” released to the public. Colin Powell took claims to the U.N. that had been rejected by his own staff, and touched them up with fabricated dialogue.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that, “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent.”

On January 31, 2003, Bush suggested to Blair that they could paint an airplane with U.N. colors, fly it low to get it shot at, and thereby start the war. Then the two of them walked out to a press conference at which they said they would avoid war if at all possible. Troop deployments and bombing missions were already underway.

When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied: “What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger.”

Duelfer openly states that his goal was to rebuild “confidence in intelligence projections of threat.” Of course, having found no WMDs, he can’t alter the inaccuracy of the “projections of threat.” Or can he? What Duelfer did publicly at the time and does again here is to claim, without providing any evidence for it, that “Saddam was directing resources to sustain the capacity to recommence producing WMD once U.N. sanctions and international scrutiny collapsed.”

Duelfer claims that former Saddam yes men, rigorously conditioned to say whatever would most please their questioner, had assured him that Saddam harbored these secret intentions to start rebuilding WMD someday. But, Duelfer admits, “there is no documentation of this objective. And analysts should not expect to find any.”

So, in Duelfer’s rehabilitation of the “intelligence community” that may soon be trying to sell you another “projection of threat” (a phrase that perfectly fits what a Freudian would say they were doing), the U.S. government invaded Iraq, devastated a society, killed upwards of a million people by best estimates, wounded, traumatized, and made homeless millions more, generated hatred for the United States, drained the U.S. economy, stripped away civil liberties back home, and laid the groundwork for the creation of ISIS, as a matter not of “preempting” an “imminent threat” but of preempting a secret plan to possibly begin constructing a future threat should circumstances totally change.

This conception of “preemptive defense” is identical to two other concepts. It’s identical to the justifications we’ve been offered recently for drone strikes. And it’s identical to aggression. Once “defense” has been stretched to include defense against theoretical future threats, it ceases to credibly distinguish itself from aggression. And yet Duelfer seems to believe he succeeded in his assignment.

David Swanson writes for PeaceVoice, and is director of WorldBeyondWar.org. A longer version of this was first published at telesur.

Code for Barbarians 6/24/15

Human Experimentation a CIA Habit

By David Swanson

David Swanson

David Swanson

The Guardian recently made public a CIA document allowing the agency’s director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research.”

Human what?

At Guantanamo, the CIA gave huge doses of the terror-inducing drug mefloquine to prisoners without their consent, as well as the supposed truth serum scopolamine. Former Guantanamo guard Joseph Hickman has documented the CIA’s torturing people, sometimes to death, and can find no explanation other than research:

“[Why] were men of little or no value kept under these conditions, and even repeatedly interrogated, months or years after they’d been taken into custody? Even if they’d had any intelligence when they came in, what relevance would it have years later? . . . One answer seemed to lie in the description that Major Generals [Michael] Dunlavey and [Geoffrey] Miller both applied to Gitmo. They called it ‘America’s battle lab.'”

Non-consensual experimentation on institutionalized children and adults was common in the United States before, during, and even more so after the U.S. and its allies prosecuted Nazis for the practice in 1947, sentencing many to prison and seven to be hanged. The tribunal created the Nuremberg Code, standards for medical practice that were immediately ignored back home. Some American doctors considered it “a good code for barbarians.”

The code begins: “Required is the voluntary, well-informed, understanding consent of the human subject in a full legal capacity.” A similar requirement is included in the CIA’s rules, but has not been followed, even as doctors have assisted with such torture techniques as waterboarding.

Thus far, the United States has never really accepted the Nuremberg Code. While the code was being created, the U.S. was giving people syphilis in Guatemala. It did the same at Tuskegee. Also during the Nuremberg trial, children at the Pennhurst school in southeastern Pennsylvania were given hepatitis-laced feces to eat.

Other sites of experimentation scandals have included the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in Brooklyn, the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, and Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia. And, of course, the CIA’s Project MKUltra (1953-1973) was a smorgasbord of human experimentation. Forced sterilizations of women in California prisons have not ended. Torture by Chicago police has for the first time just recently resulted in compensation for victims.

If we are, at long last, to put such contemptible behavior behind us, it will require breaking some bad habits.

Congress has busily re-banned torture a number of times in recent years. Now it must drop that charade and instead demand that the Attorney General enforce the anti-torture statute.

It’s good of John Oliver to denounce torture. And he’s right to go after the lies told about torture in popular entertainment. But he’s also spreading the false idea that it’s legal. “We checked,” he says, reporting that his crack team of investigators discovered that the only ban on torture is found in an executive order written by President Obama. This is dangerous nonsense. The U.S. was a party to the Anti-Torture Convention and had made torture a felony under the anti-torture statute and the war-crimes statute before George W. Bush ever became president.

Since then, Congress has repeatedly “banned” torture. But, just as the U.N. Charter’s ban on war actually legalized certain wars, purporting to replace the total ban in the Kellogg-Briand Pact with a partial ban, these Congressional efforts (such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006) have actually legalized certain cases of torture, replacing (at least in everyone’s mind) the total ban already existing in the U.S. Code and in a treaty to which the U.S. is party.

The latest “ban” proposal from Senator McCain and friends, would create exceptions in the form of those in the Army Field Manual. Advocates maintain that step number two would be to reform that manual. But if you skip both steps and acknowledge the existence of the anti-torture statute in the U.S. Code, you’re done. The proper task is to press for its enforcement, not for new laws that accomplish less.

Oliver’s mistake, like virtually everyone else’s, is based on two myths. One, torture began with Bush. Two, torture ended with Bush. On the contrary, torture has been around in the United States and elsewhere for a very long time. So has the practice of banning it. Torture is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In fact, under international law, torture can never be legalized and is always banned.

Myth number two is also wrong. Torture has not ended and won’t as long as it’s not punished.

An Attorney General can be questioned and threatened with impeachment until our laws are enforced. A New Website lets you email Congress to demand that it do just that.
David Swanson writes for PeaceVoice and wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

Raise Killing Age 4/8/15

Lower Drinking Age, Raise Killing Age

By David Swanson

David Swanson

David Swanson

The United States sends people to kill and die in war that it doesn’t trust with a beer.

It trains police in war skills to assault young people it suspects of going near beer.

Here’s an idea: Drink At 18, Don’t Kill Till 21.

Alcohol prohibition is not working, and creates unsafe drinking by people old enough to vote, drive, and work. A case can be made, and is being made, for returning the drinking age to 18.

But allowing 18-year-olds to join the military has created illegal and immoral recruitment of minors, not to mention deep moral regret, post-traumatic stress, and suicide in young veterans.

Raising the age for war participation (for joining either the military or one of its contractors) to 21 would do more for education and informed career choices — not to mention reducing drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide — than banning alcohol does.

Make-Daiquiris-Not-War is a policy based on actual dangers. The problem with alcohol is not responsible drinking of it. Alcohol is not a satanic liquid to be counterproductively made into a forbidden fruit. The problems with alcohol are: drinking and driving, which should be addressed by avoiding the driving, not through an unenforceable ban on drinking; drinking to dangerous excess, which should be addressed through open discussion, not the secretive plotting of contemporary speakeasies; and addiction, which is driven not so much by the chemicals involved as by the life of the person who becomes addicted.

And what could we most easily do to assist young people in leading more fulfilling, less horrific, lives? We could put off the decision to join in a program of warmaking until age 21, thereby giving a young person a chance to consider all the options.

In many nations there is no drinking age. In others the drinking age is after you’re dead (alcohol is prohibited). Among those with a drinking age between zero and forever, far and away the most common is 18. Exceptions are Egypt, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, Indonesia, the United States, and various Pacific island colonies of the United States, all of which make the legal age to drink 21.

But how’s that working out for them? In Egypt if you happen to witness the police murder someone, you’ll face prison or worse, while the U.S. President chats with the Egyptian President promising him more weapons and money, but if you want to drink underage, apparently nobody really minds. The inevitable result of making it legal to sell alcohol to some but not all adults (taking adults to be 18 and up) seems to be either stiffer and stiffer penalties or routine violation. This of course creates both a disrespect for laws and drinking in secret without appropriate discussion of dangers and measures to prevent recklessness.

In Argentina enlistment in the military is allowed at 21, or at 18 with parental consent. In Bahrain and Kazakhstan military enlistment starts at 15. Who’s right? Who’s respecting the enlistees? Well, according to some brain scientists at MIT — not that they should know anything:

“As a number of researchers have put it, ‘the rental car companies have it right.’ The brain isn’t fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car.”

Scientists at Dartmouth agree. (But they would, wouldn’t they?) Not to mention neuroscientists who write books and go on NPR.

So upping the killing age to 21 would be moving in the direction of the wisdom of the scientists and the rental car companies. Why lower the drinking age at the same time? Because alcohol needs to be treated principally not as a means of drunken escape, but as an enjoyable beverage with dinner. Nations with no drinking age at all tend to have less alcoholism than do puritanical nations. The point is not that 18 year olds are qualified to head off to parties at which they’ll drink gallons of hard liquor (as some currently do, law or no law) but that alcohol, like other enjoyable and risky parts of life — from dangerous sports to sex to other drugs to those televisions in airports blasting Fox News — should be dealt with openly and calmly by parents and teachers and friends, with the actual dangers made crystal clear and imaginary dangers debunked.

The fact is that prohibiting alcohol leads to more reckless drinking, while prohibiting war participation leads to less reckless killing. We’ve got our priorities wrong. Let’s rework them.

David Swanson writes for PeaceVoice, is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

It’s Not Inevitable 5/28/14

Why War Is Not Inevitable

By David Swanson

David Swanson

David Swanson

If war were inevitable, there would be little point in trying to end it. If war were inevitable, a moral case might be made for trying to lessen its damage while it continued. And numerous parochial cases could be made for being prepared to win inevitable wars for this side or that side.

Developing ways to avoid generating conflicts is part of the answer, but some occurrence of conflict (or major disagreement) is inevitable, which is why we must use more effective and less destructive tools to resolve conflicts and to achieve security. But there is nothing inevitable about war. It is not made necessary by our genes, by other inevitable forces in our culture, or by crises beyond our control.

Our Genes

War has only been around for the most recent fraction of the existence of our species. We did not evolve with it. During this most recent 10,000 years, war has been sporadic. Some societies have not known war. Some have known it and then abandoned it. Just as some of us find it hard to imagine a world without war or murder, some human societies have found it hard to imagine a world with those things. A man in Malaysia, asked why he wouldn’t shoot an arrow at slave raiders, replied “Because it would kill them.” He was unable to comprehend that anyone could choose to kill. It’s easy to suspect him of lacking imagination, but how easy is it for us to imagine a culture in which virtually nobody would ever choose to kill and war would be unknown?

Whether easy or hard to imagine, or to create, this is decidedly a matter of culture and not of DNA. According to myth, war is “natural.” Yet a great deal of conditioning is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a great deal of mental suffering is common among those who have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress disorder from war deprivation.

In some societies women have been virtually excluded from war making for centuries and then included. Clearly, this is a question of culture, not of genetic makeup. War is optional, not inevitable, for women and men alike.

Some nations invest much more heavily in militarism than most and take part in many more wars. Some nations, under coercion, play minor parts in the wars of others. Some nations have completely abandoned war. Some have not attacked another country for centuries. Some have put their military in a museum.

Forces in Our Culture

War long predates capitalism, and surely Switzerland is a type of capitalist nation just as the United States is. But there is a widespread belief that a culture of capitalism — or of a particular type and degree of greed and destruction and short-sightedness — necessitates war. One answer to this concern is the following: any feature of a society that necessitates war can be changed and is not itself inevitable. The military-industrial complex is not an eternal and invincible force. Environmental destructiveness and economic structures based on greed are not immutable.

There is a sense in which this is unimportant; namely, we need to halt environmental destruction and reform corrupt government just as we need to end war, regardless of whether any of these changes depends on the others to succeed. Moreover, by uniting such campaigns into a comprehensive movement for change, strength in numbers will make each more likely to succeed.

But there is another sense in which this is important; namely, we need to understand war as the cultural creation that it is and stop imagining it as something imposed on us by forces beyond our control. In that sense it is important to recognize that no law of physics or sociology requires us to have war because we have some other institution. In fact, war is not required by a particular lifestyle or standard of living because any lifestyle can be changed, because unsustainable practices must end by definition with or without war, and because war actually impoverishes societies that use it.

Crises Beyond Our Control

War in human history up to this point has not correlated with population density or resource scarcity. The idea that climate change and the resulting catastrophes will inevitably generate wars could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not a prediction based on facts.

The growing and looming climate crisis is a good reason for us to outgrow our culture of war, so that we are prepared to handle crises by other, less destructive means. And redirecting some or all of the vast sums of money and energy that go into war and war preparation to the urgent work of protecting the climate could make a significant difference, both by ending one of our most environmentally destructive activities and by funding a transition to sustainable practices.

In contrast, the mistaken belief that wars must follow climate chaos will encourage investment in military preparedness, thus exacerbating the climate crisis and making more likely the compounding of one type of catastrophe with another.

Ending War Is Possible

Human societies have been known to abolish institutions that were widely considered permanent. These have included human sacrifice, blood feuds, duelling, slavery, the death penalty, and many others. In some societies some of these practices have been largely eradicated, but remain illicitly in the shadows and on the margins. Those exceptions don’t tend to convince most people that complete eradication is impossible, only that it hasn’t yet been achieved in that society. The idea of eliminating hunger from the globe was once considered ludicrous. Now it is widely understood that hunger could be abolished — and for a tiny fraction of what is spent on war. While nuclear weapons have not all been dismantled and eliminated, there exists a popular movement working to do just that.

Ending all war is an idea that has found great acceptance in various times and places. It was more popular in the United States, for example, in the 1920s and 1930s. In recent decades, the notion has been propagated that war is permanent. That notion is new, radical, and without basis in fact.

David Swanson writes for PeaceVoice and wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

 

Advocates for War 3/26/14

The War Activists

David Swanson

David Swanson

By David Swanson

War activists, like peace activists, push for an agenda.  We don’t think of them as activists because they rotate in and out of government positions, receive huge amounts of funding, have access to big media, and get meetings with top officials just by asking — without having to generate a protest first.

They also display great contempt for the public and openly discuss ways to manipulate people through fear and nationalism — further shifting their image away from that of popular organizers.  But war activists are not journalists, not researchers, not academics.  They don’t inform or educate.  They advocate.  They just advocate for something that most of the time, and increasingly, nobody wants.

William Kristol and Robert Kagan and their organization, the Foreign Policy Initiative, stand out as exemplary war activists.  They’ve modified their tone slightly since the days of the Project for the New American Century, an earlier war activist organization.  They talk less about oil and more about human rights.  But they insist on U.S. domination of the world.  They find any success by anyone else in the world a threat to the United States.  And they demand an ever larger and more frequently used military, even if world domination can be achieved without it.  War, for these war activists, is an end in itself.  As was much more common in the 19th century, these agitators believe war brings strength and glory, builds character, and makes a nation a Super Power.

Kristol recently lamented U.S. public opposition to war.  He does have cause for concern.  The U.S. public is sick of wars, outraged by those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and insistent that new ones not be begun.  In September, missile strikes into Syria were successfully opposed by public resistance. In February, a new bill to impose sanctions on Iran and commit the United States to joining in any Israeli-Iranian war was blocked by public pressure.  The country and the world are turning against the drone wars.

The next logical step after ending wars and preventing wars would be to begin dismantling the infrastructure that generates pressure for wars.  This hasn’t happened yet.  During every NCAA basketball game the announcers thank U.S. troops for watching from 175 nations.  Weapons sales are soaring.  New nukes are being developed.  NATO has expanded to the edge of Russia.  But the possibility of change is in the air.  A new peace activist group at WorldBeyondWar.org has begun pushing for war’s abolition.

Here’s Kristol panicking:

“A war-weary public can be awakened and rallied. Indeed, events are right now doing the awakening. All that’s needed is the rallying. And the turnaround can be fast. Only five years after the end of the Vietnam War, and 15 years after our involvement there began in a big way, Ronald Reagan ran against both Democratic dovishness and Republican détente. He proposed confronting the Soviet Union and rebuilding our military. It was said that the country was too war-weary, that it was too soon after Vietnam, for Reagan’s stern and challenging message. Yet Reagan won the election in 1980. And by 1990 an awakened America had won the Cold War.”

Here’s Kagan, who has worked for Hillary Clinton and whose wife Victoria Nuland has just been stirring up trouble in the Ukraine as Assistant Secretary of State. This is from an article by Kagan much admired by President Barack Obama:

“As Yan Xuetong recently noted, ‘military strength underpins hegemony.’ Here the United States remains unmatched. It is far and away the most powerful nation the world has ever known, and there has been no decline in America’s relative military capacity — at least not yet.”

 This pair is something of a good-cop/bad-cop team.  Kristol bashes Obama for being a wimp and not fighting enough wars.  Kagan reassures Obama that he can be master of the universe if he’ll only build up the military a bit more and maybe fight a couple more wars here and there.

The response from some Obama supporters has been to point out that their hero has been fighting lots of wars and killing lots of people, thank you very much.  The response from some peace activists is to play to people’s selfishness with cries to bring the war dollars home.  But humanitarian warriors are right to care about the world, even if they’re only pretending or badly misguided about how to help.  It’s OK to oppose wars both because they kill huge numbers of poor people far from our shores and because we could have used the money for schools and trains.  But it’s important to add that for a small fraction of U.S. military spending we could ensure that the whole world had food and clean water and medicine.  We could be the most beloved nation.

I know that’s not the status the war activists are after.  In fact, when people begin to grasp that possibility, war activism will be finished for good.

David Swanson is syndicated by PeaceVoice. His books include War No More. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.