The Peace Pentagon, at 339 Lafayette Street, in January 1991, during the Gulf War. (WNV / Ed Hedemann)
Nearly 20 years ago, as I left the War Resisters League, or WRL, offices in lower Manhattan for the first time, I noticed that my fingertips were covered in black soot and ink. My hands were full of tracts and leaflets, and I had been looking through nonviolence training materials for the last hour. I tried to rub the dirt off onto my jeans, but it wouldn’t budge and later even soap and water had to work really hard.
A few weeks ago, I went back to 339 Lafayette Street to say goodbye to the appropriately nicknamed Peace Pentagon. The visit reminded me of that sooty, inky afternoon, when the late great and gentle Karl Bissinger gave me a tour of the WRL workroom – teeter-towered floor to ceiling with books, pamphlets, leaflets, posters and signs from every demonstration of the last half century (almost).
Monday was Revisionist History Day, what others call Memorial Day. Americans are supposed to remember the country’s war dead while being thankful that they protected our freedom and served our country. However, reading revisionist history (see a sampling below) or alternative news sites (start with Antiwar.com and don’t forget to listen to the Scott Horton Show) teaches that the fallen were doing no such thing. Rather they were and are today serving cynical politicians and the “private” component of the military-industrial complex in the service of the American Empire.
The state inculcates an unquestioning faith in its war-making by associating it with patriotism, heroism, and the defense of “our freedoms.” This strategy builds in its own defense against any criticism of the government’s policies. Anyone who questions the morality of a war is automatically suspected of being unpatriotic, unappreciative of the bravery that has “kept us free,” and disrespectful of “our troops,” in a word, un-American.
“The horror… the horror…” – Apocalypse Now (1979)
“You can’t show war as it really is on the screen, with all the blood and gore. Perhaps it would be better if you could fire real shots over the audience’s head every night, you know, and have actual casualties in the theater.” – Sam Fuller, film director and author
Nearly 71 years ago, the United States unleashed atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 individuals, many of whom were civilians.
Fast forward to the present day, and President Obama – the antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who has waged war longer than any American president and whose legacy includes targeted-drone killings and at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror – is paying lip service to the victims of America’s nuclear carnage, all the while continuing to feed the war machine.
Most Americans would think that after 9/11 and the four trillion dollar, 15 year “war on terror” that followed, the US government might actually wish to prevent individuals from visiting the country who are affiliated with al-Qaeda. Sadly, they would be wrong.
The McClatchy News Service reports that Labib al Nahhas, an official in the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist fighting group Ahrar al Sham, was granted a visa to enter the US for a brief visit.
In a recent State Department press briefing, one journalist questioned Department Spokesman Mark Toner about the purported visit. “Were US officials aware of this visit?” asked the journalist.
The State Department Inspector General’s (IG) investigation report leaked out a day early on May 25 makes a number of significant points. These matter, and need to be considered by anyone voting in November.
What’s in the IG Report
- Neither Clinton nor any of her senior staff would participate in the IG’s investigation.
- Clinton never sought approval, legal or technical, for her unprecedented private email system.
- IT staffers and others at State warned her against it.
- Had she sought approval, the State Department would not have granted it.
- Clinton violated Federal Records laws.
- Clinton did not turn over all of her work-related emails. Several (unclassified) were quoted in the IG report that had never been released.
- Clinton violated State Department policies and guidelines in place at the time, even as the State Department enforced those on the rank-and-file.
- IT staff at the State Department who raised concerns internally were falsely told the server was approved and ordered to not discuss it further.
- Clinton’s use of a non-standard email account caused many of her emails to not reach their recipients inside State, and ended up instead in Spam.
- State Department staffers not in Clinton’s inner circle aware of her private email address could not communicate with the head of their agency.
- His State Department bosses did not know their employee, Bryan Pagliano, was simultaneously working directly for Clinton maintaining her private server.
- The server came under severe enough hacker attacks that its administrator had to physically unplug it to prevent intrusions.
The question of classified material handling is, by agreement, being left by State to the FBI, and is thus not addressed in the IG report.
President Obama’s #apology tour keeps a-rollin’ on, am I right? No, hang on.
As unforgivable as Obama has been on foreign policy in myriad ways — and how much worse, perhaps, a Clinton or any Republican ever might be with the help of Obama’s drone precedents — there is something about him which almost looks like better than it could be. At least in certain lights. That is to say, Obama kills people, but he also occasionally appears to notice that the US has made foreign policy mistakes. This is what the hawks and right-wingers dub the apology tour, even though “sorry” never crosses the president’s lips when he’s discussing the heavy handed US response to 9/11, or admitting America’s role in the 1953 coup in Iran.
Obama is the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima. The opening act for his visit to the site of the first nuclear bomb ever dropped on human beings was Secretary of State John Kerry, who went last month. Kerry’s delicate acknowledgement that the bombing was a tragedy gave conservatives a case of indigestion. Obama’s Friday speech may make them lose their minds entirely. Continue