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Fahrenheit 11-11-11

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Believe it or not, November 11th was not made a holiday in order to celebrate war, support troops, or cheer the 11th year of occupying Afghanistan. This day was made a holiday in order to celebrate an armistice that ended what was up until that point, in 1918, one of the worst things our species had thus far done to itself, namely World War I.

World War I, then known simply as the world war or the great war, had been marketed as a war to end war. Celebrating its end was also understood as celebrating the end of all wars. A ten-year campaign was launched in 1918 that in 1928 created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, legally banning all wars. That treaty is still on the books, which is why war making is a criminal act and how Nazis came to be prosecuted for it. Read below the fold...

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Imagine If War Were Illegal — It Is!

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When the World Outlawed War

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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. Read below the fold...

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Our Tahrir Square: DC's Freedom Plaza on October 6th

When other nations' governments go off track, their people do something about it. In Tunisia and Egypt people have nonviolently claimed power in a way that has inspired Americans in Wisconsin and other states, as well as the people of Spain and the rest of the world.

Washington, D.C., is the weakest point in our democracy, without which state-level reform cannot succeed. Most Americans want our wars ended, our corporations and billionaires taxed, and our rights expanded rather than curtailed. We want our money invested in jobs and green energy, not a global military that can't stop itself. Our government in Washington goes in the opposite direction, opposing popular will on these major issues, regardless of personality or party. Read below the fold...

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Louder Than Words

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If you like the idea of an independent online force for peace and social justice, join us now.

This video is the first in a series -- intended to generate independent progressive activism in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election and beyond.

RootsAction is part of a growing grassroots movement to push the President and Congress to address pressing economic and war issues -- and to invest in jobs, green energy, schools, housing and education.

We will not be silent as Congress and the President continue to squander billions of dollars on foreign wars, causing destruction and hatred overseas while failing to meet the needs of the vast majority of people in our country.

We will not stand by as people lose their jobs and homes due to Wall Street schemes abetted by both major parties.

We will not give the Obama administration a pass as it continues many of the same policies that sparked loud protests under the Bush White House. We will take action -- independent of both party leaderships.

RootsAction has been strongly endorsed by such respected, independent-minded progressives as Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk and Coleen Rowley.

We'd love it if you would join us now.

I think Harry Belafonte found useful historical perspective this week when he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:

And when you ask me about Barack Obama, it is exactly what happened to Kennedy. We, the American people, made the history of that time come to another place by our passion and our commitment to change. What is saddened -- what is sad for this moment is that there is no force, no energy, of popular voice, popular rebellion, popular upheaval, no champion for radical thought at the table of the discourse. And as a consequence, Barack Obama has nothing to listen to, except his detractors and those who help pave the way to his own personal comfort with power -- power contained, power misdirected, power not fully engaged. And it is our task to no longer have expectations of him, unless we have forced him to the table and he still resists us. And if he does that, then we know what else we have to do, is to make change completely. But I think he plays the game that he plays because he sees no threat from evidencing concerns for the poor. He sees no threat from evidencing a deeper concern for the needs of black people, as such. He feels no great threat from evidencing a greater policy towards the international community, for expressing thoughts that criticize the American position on things and turns that around. Until we do that, I think we’ll be forever disappointed in what that administration will deliver.

AMY GOODMAN: And to those who say, "If you want President Obama re-elected, you will undermine him if you criticize him; and consider the alternative"?

HARRY BELAFONTE: I think we will not only undermine him, but undermine the hopes of this nation, if we don’t criticize him. Absence of protest in the times of this kind of national crisis -- Theodore Roosevelt once said, "When tyranny takes over the national agenda, it is that time that the voices of protest must be awakened. And if you don’t raise your voice in protest, you are a patriotic traitor." And I believe that patriotism is betrayed by those voices that are not heard. Those who would detract you from that fact are those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Nothing will happen but good for Barack Obama and the United States of America, and indeed the world, if everybody stepped to the table and said, "This is the course we must be on."

Let's change that situation.

Let's be the force that brings the needs of those who are struggling to the table.

The President will present more words in a speech today, as his wars rage on. Will you join us in preparing to insist on something louder than words?

Let's start by spreading this video everywhere. Read below the fold...

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Of Humans and Rights

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U.S. newspapers sometimes print what they call the total death count from one or more of our wars, and all the dead who are listed are Americans. They aren't all the Americans. They don't include contractors or suicides or various other categories of dead Americans. They certainly don't include those who died for lack of basic needs while we dumped half of our public treasury into wars. Read below the fold...

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BP Is Messing With the Wrong Woman

A year ago BP began filling the Gulf of Mexico with oil.

Last week BP blocked a woman from entering its annual meeting.

Which will prove the bigger mistake?

BP may have chosen the right country to hit with the worst oil disaster in world history. If there's any population that will take seeing its land and water destroyed for corporate profit lying down, it's got to be us. We're split between gratitude and indifference: should we thank BP or just stay out of its way? Read below the fold...

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If Cairo Came to Kabul

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Before Tahrir Square happened almost nobody predicted that President Hosni Mubarak would be forced out of office by a movement that didn't pick up a gun. Had President Barack Obama expected that outcome, he might have publicly backed Mubarak's departure before, rather than after, Mubarak stepped down.

Obama can be seen as overcompensating for that performance in Libya, but there he is placing faith in weapons. Anybody can do that. Egypt still has a long way to go on its path to a just society. But the question of whether Tunisian-Egyptian movements will find success elsewhere is the question of whether people can take the far more challenging step of placing trust in nonviolence. Read below the fold...

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Did You Just Call Me a Socialist?

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On Friday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, congress members spoke in defense of Medicare, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other programs that by almost anyone's definition are socialist, programs that were denounced as socialist by opponents of their passage in decades past, programs that would not have been created without the efforts of socialists and the Socialist Party. Read below the fold...

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On Visiting an Unwinnable War

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I'll be visiting my nation's longest war next week in Afghanistan, thanks to a wonderful organization called Voices for Creative Nonviolence which seeks to build friendship and understanding between countries. I'll be meeting with ordinary and prominent Afghans and reporting on what they think of their country's future -- often a more complex view than will fit into a television sound byte. Read below the fold...

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Wars Cannot Be Both Planned and Avoided

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Congress held an emergency meeting to defund NPR, and then did nothing as the President spent vastly more money on bombing Libya. President Obama didn't have to ask for the funding, because the Pentagon had enough lying around for just such an occasion.

A fundamental lie that keeps war going is the idea that we avoid war by preparing for it. "Speak softly and carry a big stick," said Theodore Roosevelt, who favored building a big military just in case, but of course not actually using it unless forced to. Read below the fold...

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Afghans for Wisconsinites

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From Afghanistan: We Support the People of Wisconsin and the World

We Afghans Are All Bouazizi
By Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Afghan youth are quietly encouraged by the Egyptian uprising because the people of Afghanistan want what the people of Egypt want.

We are all Bouazizi.

We want dignified livelihoods.

Dare any scientist prove to us that 30 years of wars and more to come will successfully bring us decent livelihoods? Dare any human being prove to us that mutual killings somehow bring men and women some measure of murderous dignity?

Aren’t any of you curious about whether there are any ‘stirrings of Middle East change’ in Afghanistan?” Read below the fold...

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The Worst Thing Ever Invented

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In this age of supposedly fighting against rulers and on behalf of oppressed peoples, the Vietnam War offers an interesting case in which the U.S. policy was to avoid overthrowing the enemy government but to work hard to kill its people. To overthrow the government in Hanoi, it was feared, would draw China or Russia into the war, something the United States hoped to avoid. But destroying the nation ruled by Hanoi was expected to cause it to submit to U.S. rule. Read below the fold...

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Decades in Making: U.S. Police State

Andrew Kolin's new book "State Power and Democracy: Before and During the Presidency of George W. Bush" actually begins with the war for independence and continues into the Obama years. A 231-page monotone recounting of endless facts, it doesn't pick up with Bush the Lesser until page 137. Kolin chronicles a gradual slide into an imperial presidency that really got going after World War II. Along the way he chronicles the damage done to the forces of resistance, making a compelling case that our movements for peace and justice are weak in part because of the extreme repression of recent decades. Read below the fold...

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The Art of Demonization

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One of the oldest excuses for war is that the enemy is irredeemably evil. He worships the wrong god, has the wrong skin and language, commits atrocities, and cannot be reasoned with. The long-standing tradition of making war on foreigners and converting those not killed to the proper religion "for their own good" is similar to the current practice of killing hated foreigners for the stated reason that their governments ignore women's rights. Read below the fold...

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