Remarks on June 7, 2021, to North Texas Peace Advocates.
In a world beyond war, . . . death, injury, and trauma from violence would be radically reduced, homelessness and immigration driven by fear would be largely eliminated, environmental destruction would slow considerably, government secrecy would lose all justification, bigotry would take a huge setback, the world would gain over $2 trillion and the United States alone $1.25 trillion every year, the world would be spared several trillion dollars of destruction every year, governments would gain huge amounts of time and energy to invest in something else, the concentration of wealth and the corruption of elections would suffer significant setbacks, Hollywood movies would find new consultants, billboards and racecars and pre-game ceremonies would find new sponsors, flags would be dis-enchanted, mass shootings and suicides would suffer serious slowdowns, police would find different heroes, if you wanted to thank someone for a service it would have to be for an actual service, the rule of law might become a reality globally, brutal governments would lose the use of war weaponry domestically and the support of war-mad imperial powers like the U.S. government which currently arms, funds, and/or trains most governments on earth, including almost all of the worst ones (Cuba and North Korea, the two exceptions, are too valuable as enemies; and nobody has noticed or cared that the U.S. arms and funds its latest top enemy, China).
A world beyond war might move us toward democracy, or a democracy might move us toward a world beyond war. How we get there remains to be seen. But the first step is to realize where we are now. At the organization called World BEYOND War we just finished our annual conference, and there were a lot of terrific discussions. One was the democracy one, in which one person suggests that democracy would bring peace, and someone else proves this is false by pointing out how war-crazed the earth's democracies are. This discussion always bothers me because the earth's national governments do not actually include any democracies. Capitalist economies? Yes. Do nations with McDonald's wage war on each other? Yes, they do. And there are McDonald's in Russia, Ukraine, China, Venezuela, Pakistan, Phillipines, Lebanon, and in U.S. bases in Iraq and Cuba. But democracies? How in the hell would anyone know what democracies would do?
A world beyond war could put up a serious effort to slow the collapse of the climate and ecosystems. A world that does not move beyond war will look like this world we're now in. Scientists place the Doomsday clock closer to midnight than ever before, the risk of nuclear war higher than it's ever been, and the expectation of what nuclear war anywhere on the planet would do to the entire planet is worse than it's ever been. Russia says it will never get rid of its nukes as long as the United States is threatening and dominating the globe with non-nuclear weapons. Israel's been permitted to aquire but pretend it doesn't have nuclear weapons, and numerous other nations including Saudi Arabia seem intent on pursuing that path. The United States is building lots more nukes and talking shamelessly about using them. Much of the world has banned the possession of nuclear weapons, and U.S. activists are dreaming of getting their government's so-called Defense Department merely to say it won't use them first, which raises the question of what an Offense Department would do differently, and the question of why anyone would believe a statement from the so-called Defense Department, as well as the question of exactly what sort of lunatic would use nuclear weapons second or third. Our luck at avoiding the intentional or accidental use of nukes will not last. And we'll only get rid of nukes if we get rid of war.
So, we can have a world beyond war or we can have no world at all.
I recently wrote a book debunking misconceptions about World War II, and lies justifying the nuclear bombings are a major part of the problem. But they are failing so fast that Malcom Gladwell just published a book substituting the firebombing of dozens of Japanese cities prior to the nuclear bombings as the supposed necessary evil that saved lives and brought the world peace and prosperity. When this new twist on the propaganda fails, it will be something else, because if the mythology surrounding WWII crumbles so does the whole war machine.
So, how are we doing at moving beyond war? We had a Congress vote repeatedly to end the war on Yemen when it could count on a Trump veto. Since then, not a peep. We've seen not a single resolution introduced to actually end the war on Afghanistan, or any other war, or to close a single base anywhere, or to halt the drone murders. A new president has proposed a larger military budget than ever, intentionally avoided reinstating the Iran agreement, supported the abandonment of treaties illegally dumped by Trump such as the Open Skies treaty and the Intermediate Range Nuclear treaty, upped the hostility with North Korea, doubled down on lies and childish insults toward Russia, and proposed yet more free weapons money for Israel. If a Republican had tried this, there'd be at the very least a rally in the street in Dallas, possibly even in Crawford. If a Republican had been president when they resorted to UFOs as a stand-in for the lack of any credible military enemy on earth, somebody would have at least laughed.
Iran spends 1% and Russia 8% of U.S. military spending. China spends 14% of military spending by the U.S. and its allies and weapons customers (not counting Russia or China). The annual increase in military spending by the U.S. is more than the total military spending of most of its designated enemies. Bombing for peace is in trouble, with polls for years finding the U.S. government in most parts of the world viewed as the top threat to peace. So, it may be necessary to bomb people for democracy. Sadly, however, a recent poll found the U.S. government widely considered the top threat to democracy. So, there may be a need to bomb little Yemeni and Palestinian children for the Rule Based Order.
However, some of us have been searching for the rule based order and have been unable to find it. It seems to not be written down anywhere. The United States is party to fewer major human rights treaties than almost any other government on earth, is the greatest opponent of international courts, is the greatest abuser of United Nations vetoes, is the greatest weapons dealer, is the greatest imprisoner, is in many ways the greatest destroyer of the earth's environment, and takes part in the most wars and lawless missile murders. The Rule Based Order seems to require boycotting Chinese Olympics because of how China manufactures products, even while buying the products, arming and funding the Chinese military, and collaborating with China on bioweapons labs. Under the Rule Based Order, one must save the South China Sea from China and arm the Saudi royalty against Yemen -- and do both of those things for human rights. So, I've concluded that the Rule Based Order is too complex to be understood outside of the skull of Antony Blinken, and our duty should principally consist of praying in the direction of the U.S. State Department while sending checks to the Democratic Party.
The U.S. government does not have a major political party that isn't a catastrophic scam with a good chunk of the country more or less fooled by it. The Republican Party says wealth concentration, authoritarian power, environmental destruction, bigotry, and hatred are good for you. They are not. The Democratic Party Platform and even candidate Joe Biden promised much. In place of most of those promises, people got an off-off-Broadway show in which the President and most of the Congress Members act out the part of being upset that a couple of their members are supposedly blocking everything they really sincerely long to do -- if only their hands weren't tied. This is an act, and we know it's an act for several reasons:
1) The Democratic Party has a long history of preferring over successes, failures that can be blamed on Republicans but please funders. When the pulic gave the Democrats the Congress in 2006 to end the war on Iraq, Rahm Emanuel, current nominee for ambassador to Japan, made clear that their plan was to keep the war going in order to run against it again in 2008. He was right. I mean, he was a genocidal monster, but people blamed the Republicans for the Democrats' choice to escalate the war they had been elected to end, just as people will blame Iran for Biden's choice not to allow peace with Iran.
2) When Party leaders want something, they have a lot of carrots and sticks and do not hesitate to use them. Not one carrot or stick has been deployed against Senators Manchin and Sinema.
3) The Senate could end the filibuster if it wanted to.
4) President Biden has made clear his top priority of working with Republicans, despite the absence of that priority in top demands from people and in the Democratic Party Platform.
5) Biden could choose to take a great many actions without Congress and prefers to try but fail on Capitol Hill.
6) A small number of Democrats in the House of Misrepresentatives could change policy by refusing to pass legislation, an action that would require absolutely nothing of the Senate or the President -- an action that could be taken by exclusively the very most heroic progressive Congress Members, the extreme elite. If Republicans were to oppose a military spending bill for their own crazy reasons -- such as because the bill opposes rape within the ranks or whatever -- a mere five Democrats could vote no and block the bill or impose their terms on it.
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