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Untrump the World — It Won’t Self-Impeach

Remarks at United National Antiwar Coalition in Richmond, Virginia, June 17, 2017

Did you hear about Trump calling up the mayor of Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay and telling him that, contrary to all appearances, his island is not sinking? I want to focus on one element of this story, namely that the guy believed what he was told, rather than what he saw.

Did you hear about Secretary of War Mattis telling Congress that for the 16th year in a row he would produce a plan for “winning” a war on Afghanistan? Congress either believed it or has been paid to act as if it believes it. Congress members Jones and Garamendi have a bill to defund this endless act of mass-murder. We need a movement that can nonviolently shut down Congressional offices until they do so.

We do have marches in various cities this weekend to ban nuclear bombs, and negotiations underway at the UN to create a treaty that does that. Once most countries on earth have banned nuclear bombs, the US will explain that, as with successful bans on guns, banning weapons is just not physically possible. Your eyes must be fooling you. A large percentage of that small percentage of people in this country who hear about the matter at all will believe what they are told.

Even more will believe what they are not told. Many who care about resisting climate change, completely ignore the growing danger of nuclear apocalypse, because they don’t hear about it — some people even going so far as to wantonly demand greater hostility between the US and Russian governments. What could go wrong?

We need radical reforms in our education system that go beyond ending standardized tests, shrinking classrooms, and training and paying teachers. We need courses taught in every school in the subjects of social change, nonviolent action, and refining practical techniques for the successful recognition of bullshit.

Talk Nation Radio: Lisa Ling on Killer Drones

Brad Pitt Does Stanley McChrystal: When Netflix’ War Movie Stops Being Funny

The new movie, War Machine, on Netflix starring Brad Pitt begins as a hilarious and satisfying mockery of General Stanley McChrystal, circa 2009, as well as of militarism in general. Hilarious because of the deadpan sincere idiocy. Satisfying at least to those of us who have been screaming “What are you idiots doing?” for the past fifteen-and-a-half years.

Should we be glad that a Hollywood movie can still be made mocking the murderous malevolence of true believers in militarism, or should we be disturbed that theaters won’t show such movies and they have to end up on Netflix? Should we be glad that a war satire set in Afghanistan didn’t have to wait decades for a different war, in the manner of Mash, or should we be disturbed that most viewers will not know a current war is being mocked because they either believe the war on Afghanistan has ended or they simply can’t keep up with the proliferation of wars?

A Portrait of the CIA in Prison

John Kiriakou’s Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison paints a disturbing portrait of a U.S. prison in which Kiriakou spent time as retribution for having admitted that the CIA used torture. His ongoing whistleblowing on the state of U.S. prisons, as well as on the ways in which the U.S. government has gone after him, is as valuable as his opposition to CIA torture.

The prison as described in the book is largely unaccountable to the rule of law. Prisoners in need of medical attention are simply allowed to die, or hastened along toward death by sadistic or incompetent malpractice. Education for prisoners is nonexistent. Rehabilitation efforts are nonexistent. Slave labor is universal. Those who leave, leave having acquired additional skills and attitudes of criminals. This prison system serves not to protect, not to rehabilitate, not to compensate or make restitution, and not to reduce crime.

Kiriakou also paints what I find a disturbing portrait of himself. In his view, prison requires vicious and manipulative behavior to survive. Perhaps it does. And perhaps it is an act of significantly brave honesty for Kiriakou to show himself to us degraded by such behavior. Perhaps it is all the more so to the extent that he depicts himself enjoying it. Yet he describes his prison-survival techniques as having come straight out of his CIA work, which he engaged in for years and about which he claims unmitigated pride. In addition, Kiriakou describes his approach to writing and publishing as self-serving and manipulative, and repeatedly urges us to never trust anyone, all of which leaves one wondering.

Kiriakou is proud of having volunteered to fight in the War on Terror. His view of foreign policy, as his view of prison conduct, seems to condone killing, but not torturing. His prison skills include threatening various people with murder, but never torture. That neither murder nor torture is legal or moral, and that neither “works” on its own terms, is a blind spot in U.S. culture, not something unique to John Kiriakou.

Kiriakou claims that threatening to kill one fellow prisoner scared him into ceasing to slander Kiriakou, except for on one occasion when Kiriakou was present and the other prisoner unaware of it. But it could be the man was scared into slandering Kiriakou only when he wasn’t around, which was exactly what he’d been doing to begin with.

Anyway, it’s hard to find morality in the killing / torturing distinction. Maybe that’s the point. All is gray. Kiriakou writes that in his CIA work he didn’t mind “bending some rules,” just not the one on torture. And his prison conduct continually echoes the behavior of the government he is trying to reform.

When Kiriakou asked Senator John Kerry, for whom he had worked, to ask President Obama to commute his sentence, Kerry’s reply was “Do not ever attempt to contact me again.” When a fellow prisoner revealed to Kiriakou that he was a pedophile, Kiriakou’s reply was “Don’t ever try to speak to me again. Never. Understand?”

When the CIA proposed to in-source and escalate the use of torture, Cofer Black described what happened as “the gloves came off.” When Kiriakou wanted to escalate his attacks on a fellow prisoner, he says “it was time to take the gloves off.”

Kiriakou describes Middle Eastern countries he “served” in as “dumps.” He describes prisoners as “the scum of society,” “filthy pig,” “white trash,” “filthy midget rat,” and similar dehumanizing terms. But when Kiriakou explains why his CIA background came in so handy in prison, he refers to conflict among CIA employees, not between the CIA and foreign “enemies”:

Corbynize This Trumped Up World

Making Jeremy Corbyn the Prime Minister of the U.K. would do more for the world and everyone in it than either of the two available outcomes of any recent U.S. election could have done. Here in the U.S. I always protest that I am not against elections, I think we should have one some day. Well, now we have one — only it’s across the pond.

Corbyn’s record is no secret, and you don’t need me to tell you, but I have met him and spoken at events with him, and can assure you he’s legitimate. He’s been a dedicated leader of the peace movement right through his career. He had the decency last week to point out yet again that invading and bombing countries and overthrowing governments produces terrorism; it doesn’t somehow reduce it or eliminate it or “fight” it.

Britain is the key co-conspirator in U.S. wars. One real-life Love Actually refusal to bow before Emperor Donald, and the facade of super-hero law enforcement will begin to crumble, revealing a rogue serial killer standing naked in his golden hotel suite.

The world needs an actual popular elected response to U.S. aggression against the world’s poor and the earth’s climate. A ho-hum housebroken Frenchman who’s not a fascist isn’t the same thing. Corbyn supports successful Scandinavian socialism, demilitarization, environmental action, and aid to those in need. He works within the government and is held back by his party. But he doesn’t lie. He doesn’t sell out. He makes the case for wise and popular policies as powerfully as he’s able.

Want people to believe representative government is compatible with capitalism? Want well-behaved voters the world over to imagine that the corporate media can actually be overcome? Stop grasping at Congressional candidate gun-nuts who happen to be Democrats. Stop telling vicious lies about Russia in an attempt to travel back in time and cause a corporate militarist hack to win the White House. We actually have an election between an actually good candidate and one of the usual monstrosities we’ve become so used to.

Contact every young person you can who can vote in this election. Contact every possible organization and entertainer who might help spread the word. Get every Hollywood star who ever tried to rock the vote but didn’t have anyone to promote who people actually wanted to vote for to notice this golden opportunity. Telling young Brits to get out and vote for Jeremy will do more to spread democracy than destroying Syria, starving a million children in Yemen, or occupying Afghanistan for another 50 years.

Young people, sadly, have seen through our scams. They’ve heard us cry wolf too many times. Yet if you ask them who they would have voted for, they tell you the better candidate. Now here’s an actually great candidate, and their televisions are telling them that they are powerless to do anything. And they refuse to see through that scam. You have to help them see through it! You have to find somebody hip enough to help them! Young British people are our last hope, and it’s your job to encourage them.

We could have a world in which a leading wealthy “democracy” has a government that responds to majority opinion. We could have a world in which London says to Washington: “You want another war, we won’t help you pretend it’s legal. In fact, we’re drafting a brief for the prosecution and will see you in court.” The people of the United States need that fig leaf torn away, need the pretense that mass murder is legal and necessary ended in our own minds. The peace, prosperity, sustainability, and friendship awaiting us is too much for us to even imagine. What might help us do it, what might make us believe that “hope” and “change” and other concepts we’ve almost come to despise could actually be possible would be making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.

War Monuments Are Killing Us

Remarks at Lincoln Memorial, May 30, 2017

Washington, D.C., and much of the rest of the United States, is full of war monuments, with many more under construction and being planned. Most of them glorify wars. Many of them were erected during later wars and sought to improve the images of past wars for present purposes. Almost none of them teach any lessons from mistakes made. The very best of them mourn the loss of a tiny fraction -- the U.S. fraction -- of the wars' victims.

But if you search this and other U.S. cities, you'll have a harder time finding memorials for North American genocide or slavery or the people slaughtered in the Philippines or Laos or Cambodia or Vietnam or Iraq. You won't find a lot of monuments around here to the Bonus Army or the Poor People's Campaign. Where is the history of the struggles of sharecroppers or factory workers or suffragettes or environmentalists? Where are our writers and artists? Why is there not a statue of Mark Twain right here laughing his ass off at us? Where is the Three-Mile Island memorial warning us away from nuclear energy? Where are the monuments to each Soviet or U.S. person, such as Vasili Arkhipov, who held off nuclear apocalypse? Where is the great blowback memorial mourning the governments overthrown and the arming and training of fanatical killers?

While many nations erect memorials to what they do not wish to repeat as well as to what they wish to emulate, the United States focuses overwhelmingly on wars and overwhelmingly on glorifying them. And the very existence of Veterans For Peace jams that narrative and forces some people to think.

Well over 99.9% of our history is not memorialized in marble. And when we ask that it be, we're generally laughed at. Yet if you propose to remove a monument to a Confederate general in a southern U.S. city, do you know what the most common response is? They accuse you of being against history, of wishing to erase the past. This comes out of an understanding of the past as consisting entirely of wars.

In New Orleans, they've just taken down their Confederate war monuments, which had been erected to advance white supremacy. In my town of Charlottesville, Virginia, the city has voted to take down a Robert E. Lee statue. But we've run up against a Virginia law that forbids taking down any war monument. There is no law, as far as I know, anywhere on earth that forbids taking down any peace monument. Almost as hard as finding such a law would be finding any peace monuments around here to consider taking down. I don't count the building of our friends nearby here at the U.S. Institute of Peace, which if defunded this year will have lived out its entire existence without ever having opposed a U.S. war.

But why shouldn't we have peace monuments? If Russia and the United States were engaged in jointly memorializing the ending of the Cold War in Washington and Moscow, would that not help hold off the new Cold War? If we were building a monument to the prevention, over the last several years, of a U.S. attack on Iran, would a future such attack be more likely or less likely? If there were a monument to the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Outlawry movement on the Mall, wouldn't some tourists learn of its existence and what it outlawed? Would the Geneva Conventions be dismissed as quaint if the war planners saw the Geneva Conventions Monument out their window?

Beyond the lack of monuments for peace agreements and disarmament successes, where are the monuments to the rest of human life beyond war? In a sane society, the war memorials would be one small example of many types of public memorials, and where they existed they would mourn, not glorify, and mourn all victims, not a small fraction deemed worthy of our sorrow.

The Swords to Plowshares Memorial Bell Tower is an example of what we should be doing as a society. Veterans For Peace is an example of what we should be doing as a society. Admit our mistakes. Value all lives. Improve our practices. Honor courage when it is combined with morality. And recognize veterans by creating no more veterans going forward.

We’re Dealing With a New Type of War Lie

When the U.S. public was told that Spain had blown up the Maine, or Vietnam had returned fire, or Iraq had stockpiled weapons, or Libya was planning a massacre, the claims were straightforward and disprovable. Before people began referring to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, somebody had to lie that it had happened, and there had to be an understanding of what had supposedly happened. No investigation into whether anything had happened could have taken as its starting point the certainty that a Vietnamese attack or attacks had happened. And no investigation into whether a Vietnamese attack had happened could have focused its efforts on unrelated matters, such as whether anyone in Vietnam had ever done business with any relatives or colleagues of Robert McNamara.

All of this is otherwise with the idea that the Russian government determined the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. corporate media reports often claim that Russia did decide the election or tried to do that or wanted to try to do that. But they also often admit to not knowing whether any such thing is the case. There is no established account, with or without evidence to support it, of exactly what Russia supposedly did. And yet there are countless articles casually referring, as if to established fact to the . . .

“Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election” (Yahoo).
“Russian attempts to disrupt the election” (New York Times).
“Russian … interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election” (ABC).
“Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election” (The Intercept).
“a multi-pronged investigation to uncover the full extent of Russia’s election-meddling” (Time).
“Russian interference in the US election” (CNN).
“Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election” (American Constitution Society).
“Russian hacking in US Election” (Business Standard).”

“Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking” we’re told by the New York Times, but what is “election hacking”? Its definition seems to vary widely. And what evidence is there of Russia having done it?

The “Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections” even exists as a factual event in Wikipedia, not as an allegation or a theory. But the factual nature of it is not so much asserted as brushed aside.

Former CIA director John Brennan, in the same Congressional testimony in which he took the principled stand “I don’t do evidence,” testified that “the fact that the Russians tried to influence resources and authority and power, and the fact that the Russians tried to influence that election so that the will of the American people was not going to be realized by that election, I find outrageous and something that we need to, with every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist and try to act to prevent further instances of that.” He provided no evidence.

Activists have even planned “demonstrations to call for urgent investigations into Russian interference in the US election.” They declare that “every day we learn more about the role Russian state-led hacking and information warfare played in the 2016 election.” (March for Truth.)

Belief that Russia helped put Trump in the White House is steadily rising in the U.S. public. Anything commonly referred to as fact will gain credibility. People will assume that at some point someone actually established that it was a fact.

Keeping the story in the news without evidence are articles about polling, about the opinions of celebrities, and about all kinds of tangentially related scandals, their investigations, and obstruction thereof. Most of the substance of most of the articles that lead off with reference to the “Russian influence on the election” is about White House officials having some sort of connections to the Russian government, or Russian businesses, or just Russians. It’s as if an investigation of Iraqi WMD claims focused on Blackwater murders or whether Scooter Libby had taken lessons in Arabic, or whether the photo of Saddam Hussein and Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands was taken by an Iraqi.

A general trend away from empirical evidence has been extensively noted and discussed. There is no more public evidence that Seth Rich leaked Democratic emails than there is that the Russian government stole them. Yet both claims have passionate believers. Still, the claims about Russia are unique in their wide proliferation, broad acceptance, and status as something to be constantly referred to as though already established, constantly augmented by other Russia-related stories that add nothing to the central claim. This phenomenon, in my view, is as dangerous as any lies and fabrications coming out of the racist right.

U.S. Human Rights Groups Recommend Bombing Victims Move Underground, Develop Militias

The International Committee of the Red Cross and InterAction (a coalition of U.S. human rights groups) have published a report on how to protect civilians when waging war on cities. They seek to catalog the “humanitarian challenges specific to urban warfare.”

While I would not (one wishes it were needless to say) prefer that they strive to maximize the human destruction possible in urban warfare, I want to note that any report seeking to address the humanitarian challenges specific to slavery or rape or child abuse or the slaughter of kittens (rather than humans) would be dismissed with outrage. Nowhere do these human rights advocates hint at the possibility of ceasing to bomb cities. Nowhere do they recognize the illegality of all recent U.S. bombings of cities under the U.N. Charter or, for that matter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Instead, the authors treat the practice of bombing cities as inevitable and natural, and attribute the growth of urban warfare to the migration of people from rural to urban areas.

What should be done? While the authors discuss various types of massive slaughter and destruction as “intended or not,” they also suggest that the key reform to be sought is better intentions and more careful planning. The “development” types should work better with the “humanitarians,” provide more “flexible” funding for the human rights groups, and do “proportionality analysis,” we’re told.

The word “proportionality” appears in every Just War theory and in thousands of mainstream news reports, yet nobody, including these authors, has ever devised a test whereby one can determine whether a war or a particular bombing was “proportional” or not. If I say killing 14 children in order to kill a particular man was disproportional, what’s to stop someone else arguing that this particular man needed to be killed to an extent that would have justified killing anywhere up to 16.37 children? Of course, I can point out that most wars kill mostly civilians, so that launching them is an act that guarantees great injustice, but I can’t stop someone else claiming that “proportionally” killing 500,000 children is “worth it” in the context of some just cause (as then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once claimed).

The most serious recommendation that these authors make is that no more large bombs, only small bombs, be dropped on cities, with the large bombs saved for rural areas. It’s worth noting that the U.S. government is developing “more usable” nuclear bombs and tends to ignore such restrictions, that small bombs like large bombs still commit mass-murder while endangering us and costing a fortune and poisoning the environment, that a number of small bombs adds up to a large bomb, and that large bombs in rural areas do all of the same destructive things even if hitting fewer people and less centralized infrastructure.

The most disturbing recommendations in this report include creating safe exit routes (even while claiming people should have the right not to leave), moving schools and hospitals underground, avoiding ground floor windows, and taking up arms and developing local militias.

This report is the product of a human rights industry feeding off its total acceptance of war and violence. When you can bring yourself to the point of making these recommendations to the people your government is bombing, but you cannot ever bring yourself to the point of even hinting at the possibility that your government should stop bombing people all over the world, you’ve become an Orwellian ministry of human rights, not an actual movement to expand the well-being of humans.

Talk Nation Radio: Francis Boyle on How to Impeach Trump

Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Professor Boyle has served as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the Palestinian Authority. He has represented the Blackfoot Nation, the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989. And he has been a strong advocate over the years for the proper use of the power of impeachment.

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Producer: David Swanson.

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LEAKED: Text of Trump’s Peaceful Islam Speech

By Donald Trump
Translated into English by David Swanson

I am very honored to have been invited here to tell you about Islam. King Salman invited me, and I said you know I really need to go to Israel first because I have a connection to any chosen people. I was chosen by the majority of Americans last November, of electoral Americans. They love me. But King Salman — great guy, really great guy, and such beautiful houses — King Salman told me what he wanted me to talk about, and then I had to say yes. I had to. There was no question.

King Salman — and you know people in the United States are thinking of giving me that same title, King, they’re thinking about it, I won’t say they’re going to do it, but they really really want to — King Salman said to me, “Donald,” he said, “do you remember when I closed that nude beach in France so that we could have a little party, just a simple private party? Do you remember,” he said, “how the French were upset and claimed I was against nude beaches?”

Why You Should Visit Russia

Just back from a week in Moscow, I feel obliged to point out a few things about it.

  • Most people there still love Americans.
  • Many people there speak English.
  • Learning basic Russian is not that hard.
  • Moscow is the biggest city in Europe (and far bigger than any in the United States).
  • Moscow has the charm, culture, architecture, history, activities, events, parks, museums, and entertainment to match any other city in Europe.
  • It’s warm there now with flowers everywhere.
  • Moscow is safer than U.S. cities. You can walk around alone at night with no worries.
  • The Metro goes everywhere. A train comes every 2 minutes. The trains have free Wi-Fi. So do the parks.
  • You can rent bicycles at lots of different spots and return them to any other.
  • You can fly direct from New York to Moscow, and if you fly on the Russian airline Aeroflot you’ll get a nostalgic reminder of what it’s like to have airplane seats large enough to hold a human being.
  • Everybody says that St. Petersburg and various other cities are even more beautiful than Moscow.
  • Right now the sun is up from 4:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Moscow, and until 9:30 p.m. in St. Petersburg. The longest day of the year in St. Petersburg is 18-and-a-half hours.

Americans seem not to know about Russia. While four-and-a-half million Americans visit Italy in a year, and two-and-a-half million go to Germany as tourists, only 86 thousand go to Russia. More tourists go to Russia from several other countries than go there from the U.S.

American/Russian Vladimir Posner on the State of Journalism

Vladimir Posner, who spent his youth in the United States, France, and the Soviet Union, and who cohosted a show with Phil Donahue on U.S. television for years, met with a group of visitors to Moscow from the U.S. on Monday, offering his well-informed views on a range of media-related topics.

Posner said that for years he worked on Soviet propaganda aimed at the United States. The first blow to his full belief in the rectitude of the USSR came, he said, with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He eventually concluded that he was not telling the truth, that by telling only good things he was telling half the truth, which is a falsehood. He quit the job and he quit the Communist Party.

What I Saw When I Visited a Russian School

As I was heading off to visit Russia, a friend told me of a friend who knew a Russian school teacher. I asked if I could visit the school, and I brought along a couple of American friends. Here's a video of what we saw there.

Racists Love Russia?

Photo by Daily Progress.

While I’ve been in Russia trying to make friends, back home in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, a group of torch-bearing supporters of Robert E. Lee has held a rally generally understood as a proclamation of white supremacy. I’ve previously written at some length about this white identity group, their humanity, their legitimate grievances, and their support for Donald Trump.

They chanted: “You will not replace us!” possibly because the city of Charlottesville has decided to replace a statue of Robert E. Lee with something less racist.

They chanted: “Blood and soil!” I suppose to express their lengthy connection to the land (although their leader is no more from Virginia than Robert E. Lee is from Charlottesville), or — less charitably — just because of the flagrantly fascist sound of the slogan.

And they chanted: “Russia is our friend!”

A Russian Journalist’s Perspective

Dmitri Babich has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1989, for newspapers, news agencies, radio, and television. He says that he used to always interview people, while lately people interview him.

According to Babich, myths about Russian media, such as that one cannot criticize the president in Russia, can be dispelled simply by visiting Russian news websites and using Google Translator. More newspapers in Russia oppose Putin than support him, Babich says.

If Russian news is propaganda, Babich asks, why are people so afraid of it? Was anyone ever afraid of Brezhnev’s propaganda? (One might reply that it wasn’t available on the internet or television.) In Babich’s view the threat of Russian news lies in its accuracy, not in its falsehood. In the 1930s, he says, French and British media, in good “objective” style, suggested that Hitler wasn’t anything much to worry about. But the Soviet media had Hitler right. (On Stalin perhaps not so much.)

A Russian Entrepreneur’s Perspective

I’ve been in Moscow some days now and have yet to meet an oligarch (although perhaps they don’t identify themselves). I have met an entrepreneur named Andrei Davidovich. He’s started several companies since his first in 1998, including a software company, a marketing agency, a publishing company, etc. He says it takes 5 days to create a new company in Russia.

He gives U.S. friends thanks for technology, research, and knowledge. He tells the U.S. government thanks for nothing.

Davidovich has been in touch for years with the U.S.-based Center for Citizen Initiatives, the excellent organization that can bring you to Russia to learn all about it, and that brought some 6,000 Russian businessmen and women, including Davidovich, to the U.S. during the previous cold war.

Things Russians Can Teach Americans

I suppose the list is lengthy and includes dancing, comedy, karaoke singing, vodka drinking, monument building, diplomacy, novel writing, and thousands of other fields of human endeavor, in some of which Americans can teach Russians as well. But what I’m struck by at the moment in Russia is the skill of honest political self-reflection, as found in Germany, Japan, and many other nations to a great degree as well. I think the unexamined political life is not worth sustaining, but it is all we have back home in the not so united states.

Here, as a tourist in Moscow, not only friends and random people will point out the good and the bad, but hired tour guides will do the same.

“Here on the left is the parliament where they make all of those laws. We disagree with many of them, you know.”

“Here on your right is where they are building a 30-meter bronze wall for the victims of Stalin’s purges.”

Gorbachev: It Was Worse Than This, and We Fixed It

By Дэвид Суонсон (David Swanson)

On Friday in Moscow I and a group from the United States met with former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. He said the current relationship between Washington and Moscow alarmed him. But, he said, it is possible to rebuild trust. “We had a situation that was worse, but we were able to rebuild trust. And people-to-people contacts helped to rebuild trust.”

When Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan first met, presidents of the two countries had not met for six years. Members of Reagan’s cabinet opposed the meeting. Gorbachev came out of the meeting saying of Reagan “He’s not a hawk, he’s a dinosaur.” Reagan came out denouncing Gorbachev as “a die-hard communist.”

But they kept meeting. Eventually and inevitably Reagan asked what the Soviets would do if the U.S. were attacked by a meteor or aliens. Both men said their countries would help each other. However, Reagan was a fan of Star Wars, both the weapons boondoggle and the movie — which he may have kept distinct from each other in his mind. Gorbachev and Reagan accomplished a great deal of disarmament, not to mention Gorbachev’s accomplishing the nonviolent dissolution of an empire. But they could not get rid of all the nuclear weapons, and they could not take other serious steps in that direction, because Reagan was not willing, and the U.S. government was not willing.

The U.S. Behavior That Concerns Russia

I attended a meeting in Moscow on Friday with Vladimir Kozin, longtime member of Russia’s foreign service, advisor to the government, author, and advocate for arms reduction. He handed out the list of 16 unresolved problems above. While he noted that the United States funds NGOs in Russia, as well as Ukraine, to influence elections, and described that as a reality in contrast to U.S. stories of Russia trying to influence a U.S. election, which he called a fairy tale, the topic did not make the top-16 list.

He added to the top of the list as something that could be obtainable, and something he considers very important, the need for an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on no first use of nuclear weapons, an agreement that he thinks other nations would subsequently join.

Then he stressed what he’s listed as the first item above: removing what the U.S. calls missile “defense” but what Russia views as offensive weaponry from Romania, and ceasing the construction of the same in Poland. These weapons combined with no commitment to no first use, Kozin said opens up the possibility of an accident or a misinterpretation of a flock of geese leading to the destruction of all human civilization.

Kozin said that NATO is encircling Russia, creating wars outside of the United Nations, and planning for first use.  Pentagon documents, Kozin accurately stated, list Russia as a top enemy, an “aggressor” and an “annexer.” The U.S. would like, he said, to break Russia apart into small republics. “It will not happen,” Kozin assured us.

Sanctions, Kozin said, are actually benefitting Russia by moving it from importation to domestic production of goods. The problem, he said, is not sanctions but the total lack of action on arms reduction. I asked him if Russia would propose a treaty to ban weaponized drones, and he said that he favored one and that it should not cover only fully automated drones, but he stopped short of saying that Russia should propose it.

Kozin supported the proliferation of nuclear power, without explaining away the problems of accidents like Fukushima, the creation of targets for terrorism, and the moving of any nation that acquires nuclear power closer to nuclear weaponry. In fact, he later warned that Saudi Arabia is acting with just that intention. (But why worry, the Saudis seem very reasonable!) He also noted that Poland has asked for U.S. nukes, while Donald Trump has talked of spreading nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea.

Kozin would like to see a world free of nuclear weapons by 2045, a century since the defeat of the Nazis. He believes that only the U.S. and Russia can lead the way (though I believe the non-nuclear nations are right now doing so). Kozin would like to see a U.S.-Russia summit on nothing but arms control. He recalls that the U.S. and Soviet Union signed six arms control agreements.

Kozin defends weapons sales as long as they are legal, without explaining how they are not destructive.

He also defends holding out optimism that Trump might meet some of his pre-election promises regarding better relations with Russia, including a commitment to no first use, even while noting that Trump has gone back on most such promises since the election. Kozin noted that what he called the Democratic Party’s promotion of fairytales has been very damaging.

Kozin spent some time on the usual fact-based response to the as-yet-unproven U.S. accusations of election interference, as well as providing the usual reality-focused response to accusations of invading Crimea. He called Crimea Russian land since 1783 and Khruschev’s giving it away as illegal. He asked the leader of a delegation of Americans that visited Crimea if she had found a single person who wanted to rejoin Ukraine. “No,” was the response.

While Russia had the right to keep 25,00 troops in Crimea, he said, in March 2014 it had 16,000 there, even as Ukraine had 18,000. But there was no violence, no shooting, just an election in which (perhaps disturbingly to Americans, I guess) the winner of the popular vote was actually declared the winner.

Love from Russians

On Wednesday, I flew out of a New York airport around which armed soldiers in camouflaged uniforms wandered — a New York area that had long ago hidden in the hardest to reach corner of New Jersey the monument that Russia gave the United States in sympathy with the horror of September 11, 2001. I left a country where the corporate media used “ties to Russia” as the equivalent of “servant of Satan,” and treated financial and criminal corruption as honorable or offensive depending purely on whether anyone Russian was involved.

I flew on an airplane named for Pushkin, along with over 400 other passengers, up over Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the beautiful mountains of Norway and Sweden, perfectly visible below, the great expanse of Estonia and Russia, and the suburban houses in pine woods approaching Moscow — the largest city I’ve ever been to with over 20 times the population of Washington, D.C.

It’s a city that I have found, thus far, full of people eager to express their love for the United States and its people. Moscow is a safe, clean, beautiful city of unarmed police, free Wi-Fi on fast trains, traffic jams of shiny new cars, new construction everywhere, and a sense on behalf of at least many people that more is improving than is getting worse — a notion not widely encountered back home in some decades. In Russia, more expatriates are returning, and more young people staying. Many have grievances, but the Canadian Embassy is not overrun following elections.

Many speak English and are happy to assist you in learning Russian. On a tour of subway stations, as above ground as well, you’ll see everywhere efforts to remember the good and the bad of every period of Russian (and Soviet) history. You’ll see monuments to every type of worker: architects, farmers, geographers, and every other occupation rarely thanked for its service back home. And you’ll see monuments to peace (the same word as world) alongside monuments to the defeat of numerous invaders over the centuries, most prominently the Nazis.

Even the major holiday of Victory Day just passed on May 9 resembles the old Armistice Day in the U.S. more closely than it does the current Veterans Day. People march with portraits of those killed in war, not support for ever more wars around the world.

Moscow is alive late into the night. You can call an uber car on your smartphone, for which the restaurants (and I doubt there is one better than this one) will give you a charger. And the hardest thing to find is resentment, even over the U.S. openly taking credit for imposing on Russia its own Donald Trump in the person of Boris Yeltsin.

Impeach Trump for Right Reasons

The Constitution suddenly seems to have bestirred itself and declared itself, through its many Washington spokespeople, to be in crisis.

I’m sorry, interjects the world, but what the hell took you so long?

We laid out the clear Constitutional violations of Trump’s financial and business interests on the day he became president (in the real sense, not the media event months later when “He finally became president” by bombing enough people) at

Since the later hours of Day 1 back in January through the present instant, the clear and documented (when not openly bragged about) Constitutional offenses have been piling up.

Thousands in U.S. send messages of friendship to Russians

As of this writing, 7,269 people in the United States, and rising steadily, have posted messages of friendship to the people of Russia. They can be read, and more can be added at

People’s individual messages are added as comments endorsing this statement:

To the people of Russia:

We residents of the United States wish you, our brothers and sisters in Russia, nothing but well. We oppose the hostility and militarism of our government. We favor disarmament and peaceful cooperation. We desire greater friendship and cultural exchange between us. You should not believe everything you hear from the American corporate media. It is not a true representation of Americans. While we do not control any major media outlets, we are numerous. We oppose wars, sanctions, threats, and insults. We send you greetings of solidarity, trust, love, and hope for collaboration on building a better world safe from the dangers of nuclear, military, and environmental destruction.

Here is a sampling, but I encourage you to go and read more:

Robert Wist, AZ: A world of friends is far better than a world of enemies. – I wish for us to be friends.

Arthur Daniels, FL: Americans and Russians = friends forever!

Peter Bergel, OR: After meeting many different kinds of Russians on my trip to your beautiful country last year, I am especially motivated to wish you well and to resist the efforts of my government to create enmity between our countries. Together our countries should lead the world toward peace, not further conflict.

Charles Schultz, UT: All of my friends and I have nothing but love, and the utmost respect, for the Russian people! We are not your enemies! We want to be your friends. We do not agree with our government, the members of congress, the president, any of the agencies of government that are constantly accusing Russia of every problem, not only here in the US, but also throughout the entire world!

No More Oil for Wars!

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