Opinion/Commentary

Opinions here are those of the writer and are not necessarily those of the Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice at large.

Post 20:

Lee Camp and David Swanson

What a great conversation!

The abundance of sanity was so refreshing.

I listened to this instead of Biden’s SOTU and all the mindless applause.

Post 19:

The Case of the Chinese Balloon

U.S. War Machine vs. Balloons

Post 18:

Below is my bad review for a bad review of Medea Benjamin’s book, War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict.

(Here is another criticism of the criticism.)

This near-conclusion first paragraph below (marked “Reviewer says:”) is the only time the word negotiations comes up in his review.

He is ignorant of the following:

Art. 2(3) of the UN Charter already obliges all States to settle disputes by peaceful means. This obligation to negotiate means good faith dialogue with the goal to reach a compromise, a quid pro quo. There is no right to intransigence in the UN Charter. If one party refuses to talk, it is violating article 2(3) and actually provoking the other to the use of force. Moreover, this constitutes a potential threat to international peace and security for purposes of article 39 of the UN Charter. It is bad faith in contravention of article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

Similarly, once an armed conflict has broken out, the obligation to negotiate in good faith persists. The refusal to negotiate peace, the deliberate prolongation of a war, expecting victory or unconditional surrender is obsolete in the nuclear world, incompatible with the UN Charter and constitutes both a crime against peace and a crime against humanity.

Also skimming his review, I don’t see he addresses that before resorting to invasion, Putin had reasonable demands which were entirely ignored (see here: https://davidswanson.org/russias-demands-have-changed/ ); he seems to not seriously consider that Putin was provoked (2014 coup, NATO expansion, Putin’s demands entirely ignored).

Reviewer says:

“…Reading Benjamin and Davies leaves one with the simple, straightforward analysis, dominant in some corners of the Left, that this is an easily understood proxy war between NATO and Russia. Seen through this distorted lens, one could understand why some on the Left call for an end to the war via “peace negotiations” (and dismembering of Ukraine) and oppose sending vital weapons to those fighting the Russian invaders.

“[O]pposing Ukraine’s right to defend itself and eject its invaders is an abandonment of every principle of internationalism, solidarity, and anti-colonial and, anti-imperialist politics.

“However, a serious examination of the war and its many dimensions leads to the very different conclusion that Ukraine has been invaded by an aggressive sub-imperial state, which also happens to be the traditional colonial power in the region, and that resistance to such aggression is not only justified, but a prerequisite for the survival of the people of Ukraine and the defense of their right to self-determination. In fact, such an analysis leads to the logical conclusion that opposing Ukraine’s right to defend itself and eject its invaders is an abandonment of every principle of internationalism, solidarity, and anti-colonial and anti-imperialist politics.

“Some Concluding Thoughts

“While I don’t know Davies, it is truly a shame to see Benjamin, whose work I’ve often found valuable and whom I’ve hosted on my podcast, degrade herself with such an embarrassing distortion of an extremely complex and exceedingly dangerous war.
Benjamin and Davies, like Noam Chomsky and Katrina vanden Heuvel (who contributed the preface to this book), are correct that the threat of nuclear war still looms over everything happening in Ukraine, and everyone globally should be concerned about that. They are also correct that U.S.-NATO imperialism is critical to understanding the invasion. Unfortunately, the book they’ve produced misinforms more than it informs and distorts more than it clarifies.

“Benjamin and Davies have done a tremendous disservice to the people of Ukraine resisting an invasion, the people of Russia living under (especially those resisting) a criminal regime, and the international Left as a whole. And in so doing, they provide left cover for Putin’s war machine. Echoing Gupta, even if the Left in the United States lacks effective power at the moment, we must at the very least provide a serious analysis, based on historical truths as well as current political realities. Anything less fails all those suffering under the guns of imperial aggressors—in this case, the forces led by Vladimir Putin.”

And he seems completely unaware of:

Between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts.

Study here.

From David Swanson.

Post 17:

L2E: Knotek: Prioritize innocent lives

Jan 25, 2023

The U.S. continues to grossly underfund education, healthcare, housing, social security, Medicare and other vital domestic needs.

Meanwhile, Congress members on both sides of the aisle have lined up to provide record levels of funding to the Department of Defense.

Congress just approved a military budget of $858 billion. This amount, according to the New York Times, is more than the budgets of the next 10 largest agencies combined. While 56 cents of every tax dollar go to war making, 15 cents go to fund needs such as education, healthcare and housing combined.

Sixty billion dollars of the military budget is for weapons and training for Ukraine. The U.S. appears to have a single focus on “winning” this war. At what cost?

According to General Milley, it’s likely 200,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured. Almost 20,000 civilians including many children have been killed or injured. Fifteen to 30 million Ukrainians have become refugees.

Considering the scale of this war, Russia’s nuclear capability and U.S. involvement, there is no foreseeable military “victory.” If the U.S. continues to escalate the conflict, nuclear war is a clear possibility.

Whatever outcome we want to see in this war, it must not come at the expense of innocent lives. Neither should the world risk a nuclear disaster.

We need to lobby our Congress members to demand a weapons freeze and de-escalation of the war. Demand diplomacy over destruction.

Sonali and Pete Knotek, Racine

Post 16:

Meta, fig-leaf name for the facebook monopoly is going to allow Trump back on their site after banning him for 2 years.

Making money for them off what his return will generate is more important than the people who died and the many injured on Jan 6 from Trump inciting that mob.

They’re saying, in effect, time to just forget all that.

Mugbook and Instagraph.

“Trumpism online exploited what was already there: the profit-over-people business model of our digital spaces. As long as hate and disinformation can be monetized, social media companies will give platforms to Trump, mini-Trumps, disinformation bots, and other aspiring fascists.”

Post 15:

David Swanson: Winston Churchill Was a Monster.

Post 14:

Concerning nonviolent action:

The arms merchants are never going to tell you that between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts.

They aren’t going to tell you of

GENE SHARP’S 198 METHODS OF NONVIOLENT ACTION

David Swanson compiled these 89 examples of nonviolent resistance:

Post 13:

The Democrats should begin impeachment proceedings, the Repubs will happily join in and then we can be rid of that guy. 

https://www.commondreams.org/opinion/biden-strong-candidate-2024

Sign on:

https://www.dontrunjoe.org/

Post 12: David Swanson piece: The Monroe Doctrine Is 200 and Should Not Reach 201

Post 11: I’m inclined to say the Repubs should impeach and convict dumb-a** Biden over his documents scandal and then we might have a marginally better president with Harris, except look at them: election deniers, insurrection minimizers, fake electors deliverers, etc., and they failed to convict Trump in either of his two impeachments.

Post 10: The mechanics of U.S. global domination/weakening Russia/Ukraine.

Post 9:

Racine businesses to boycott for contracting with the Do”D.”

Post 8:

BIDEN EXCORIATED — SEVEN AREAS WHERE HE’S AS BAD AS TRUMP.

Post 7:

Ukraine is losing. For instance, the author points out that:

“The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, recently let slip that the Ukrainian army has lost more than 100,000 troops in the eight months since the beginning of the war. Over the nine-year span of the Vietnam War, the U.S. with a population six times that of Ukraine, lost a total of 58,220 men.

“In other words, on a per day, per capita basis, Ukraine is losing soldiers at a rate 141 TIMES that of U.S. losses in Vietnam. The U.S. lost the public on Vietnam when middle class white boys began coming home in body bags. Does anybody with half a brain believe such losses in Ukraine are sustainable?”

He asserts in his opening that “[Ukraine is] the poorestmost corrupt nation in Europe…”

Post 6:

Media watchdogging by FAIR:

NYT, WSJ Look to Hawks for Ukraine Expertise

The antiwar Washington think tank Quincy Institute was mentioned in four news articles in the New York Times from February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine, to November 9. Of these articles, two (7/3/22, 9/27/22) included quotes from members of the Institute that were critical of US military strategy in Ukraine. In the same time period, the Wall Street Journal published a single mention of the Quincy Institute in connection with Ukraine, in a piece (3/23/22) on Ukrainian lobbyists’ influence in the US. Meanwhile, the Journal mentioned the hawkish Center for Strategic and International Studies—heavily funded by the US government, arms dealers and oil companies—in 30 Ukraine news stories. That’s a 30:1 ratio of the hawkish think tank to the dovish think tank. CSIS appeared in the Times 44 times, according to a Nexis search, including five opinion pieces —a news ratio of just under 10:1.

Too Embedded to Explain Who They’re in Bed With

Extra! (11/22) noted the New York Times (10/4/22) describing Ukraine’s Avoz Regiment as “celebrated” rather the more accurate “neo-Nazi.” Now the Times has found a new far-right unit to fawn over: “The Bratstvo battalion has undertaken some of the conflict’s most difficult missions,” noting that “the group gave access to the New York Times to report on two recent riverine operations.”  The Times didn’t report, though, that the group was founded in 2004 by Dmytro Korchynsky, a Holocaust denier (UkeTube, 10/6/16) who has demanded, “Have the Jews apologized for participating in the destruction of Ukrainians?” He sees Bratstvo as a “Christian Taliban” (Intercept, 3/18/15).  One of the two leaders of the unit quoted in the Times article, Oleksiy Serediuk, also embraced the Taliban label in an interview with Al Jazeera (4/15/15), which noted that the officer used to be part of the Azov: “Serediuk didn’t leave the Azov because of the neo-Nazi connections, however—extreme-right ideology doesn’t bother him,” the article said. “I left the Azov because it was full of pagans,” he said. In two separate photos accompanying the Times piece, different Bratstvo fighters can be seen wearing the Totenkopf emblem popularized by the Nazi SS—but the Times takes no notice of this display of Third Reich nostalgia.

And When I Say Never, I Mean Sometimes

“Journalists should never be punished for doing their job,” says Ned Price (Twitter, 11/23/22), spokesperson for the US State Department, which is seeking the extradition of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange for documenting US war crimes.

‘Astonishing’— But Not Too Newsworthy

“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Donald Trump declared on his Truth Social website (12/3/22). “The explicit suggestion of suspending the Constitution was astonishing even by the standards of Mr. Trump,” the New York Times (12/4/22) reported. And where did the Times report this “astonishing” news? Page A13 of the print edition (12/5/22). The Washington Post (12/4/22) likewise couldn’t find room on its front page to say that the leading Republican candidate for president called for the “termination” of the Constitution. It did, however, provide analysis pieces like “For Trump, the Constitution Is Malleable” (12/6/22) and “Trump’s Call to Set Aside the Constitution Raises a Question: Why Now?” (12/5/22).

Extra! Jan./Feb 2023

Post 5:

Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump, only 677 pages, an otherwise excellent page-turner book about the two Trump impeachments, gets it wrong on p.72 that the congressionally-authorized weapons money Trump was withholding from Ukraine trying to strong-arm Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden’s son for him was weapons money “…for supporting Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression…”

The time frame here is Aug-Sep 2019, more than two years before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Instead, this money was being used by Ukraine to make war on its own people in provinces of Ukraine where there were Russian majorities who, once the coup in 2014 supported by the U.S. overthrowing the democratically-elected president succeeded in installing an anti-Russian president, wished to break away.

There were a number of Republicans whose conscience was assuredly “pushing” them toward impeachment of Trump both times, but who felt strong party peer pressure and even fear of Trump’s base who were not above death threats to “keep them in line” and back the monster known as Trump who they also feared.

Some of these were people who were selling their souls by backing Trump such as Kevin McCarthy who had a consuming ambition to be Speaker of the House which he felt would likely never happen if he broke with Trump.

It occurs to me that Trump was so slow to call things off on Jan 6 because he was hoping the insurrectionists would succeed.

There were others, behind the scenes, General Mark Milley, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman (people who were sane enough and adhering to their oath to the Constitution), who were trying to “land the plane” in the overall sense of Trump out, Biden in come Inauguration Day.


It was written up in the New Yorker.

During the second impeachment of Trump which concerned the January 6 insurrection, the Democrats in charge of the impeachment effort sought from the new Biden administration to interview Secret Service and Pentagon personnel concerning January 6 and the Biden people were not cooperative.

Impeachment of Trump for only trying to violently thwart the results of the 2020 election and retain power was seen by the new Biden administration as getting in the way of them rolling out what they wanted to do, apparently feeling the honeymoon period a new president generally gets would get squandered on impeachment efforts.

–Mark M

Post 4:

I sent the following to Rep. Bryan Steil via his website where instead of entering info on a single screen, one must enter info on 5 successive screens meaning he really doesn’t want to hear from you:

Thanks for your Constituent Services Update mailing, but the pie chart on federal government spending is misleading by including Social Security and Medicare in the pie.

Any employed person’s paycheck stub shows separate withholding (FICA) for Social Security/Medicare, so it’s SEPARATE and not part of the same pie.

Your accompanying revenue pie chart actually indicates this.

Your spending pie chart is a handy way to shrink the slice that represents so-called National Defense spending which would be approximately half of the pie in a properly-rendered pie chart.

Please don’t mislead us and while I’ve brought up “Defense,” that’s a lot of money to spend to, what, defend our borders from military invasion? And the “Defense” Department can’t even pass an audit.

Stop throwing money at the problem of “Defense.”

Thank you.

The War Resisters League has an accurate pie chart here.

–Mark M

Post 3:

Here is David Swanson’s excoriation of nuclear weapons, especially the ICBM variety.

Post 2:

As a pacifist, I think Ukraine should surrender and then “mobilize” a bunch of these nonviolent resistance ideas. Though it defies consensus, between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts.

–Mark M

Post 1:

The following is by Mark M (Giese) as part of his first Racine Writer-in-Residence post of July 7, 2022:

Ukraine! (and also forests which are cities of trees)

No doubt you, the reader, are well aware of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine (so, yes, he is a war criminal as are all the U.S. presidents since WW II, Obama and Biden included). And, with pacifism as my ideal, I can hardly approve of any invasion and so I don’t.

But the U.S. corporate media in covering that war is lying by omission in an entirely wholesale manner which assuredly amounts to U.S. propaganda.

To wit (again), little reported if at all — and remember that, in war, truth is the first casualty:

In 2014, in Ukraine, there was a U.S.-backed coup that deposed the democratically-elected Ukraine leader who was friendly to Russia in favor of one that was not friendly to Russia.

During the GHW Bush era, with the reunification of Germany and the reunified Germany then admitted into NATO, the then Soviet Union was assured by the U.S. that NATO would not expand further eastward.

There have been high-ranking U.S. government people ever since such as George Kennan, Henry Kissinger and Biden’s CIA chief who have warned that expanding NATO is provocative to Russia. And yet, Bill Clinton/Madeleine Albright first expanded it as have subsequent administrations.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was no more Warsaw Pact. So why is there still a NATO?

Is expanding NATO U.S. ineptitude or deliberate provocation?

Here is world-famous U.S. dissident Noam Chomsky (b.1928, who made the assertion about all post-WW II U.S. presidents being guilty of war crimes) asserting provocation and insisting on U.S. censorship concerning Ukraine:

“Of course, it was provoked. Otherwise, they wouldn’t refer to it all the time as an unprovoked invasion. By now, censorship in the United States has reached such a level beyond anything in my lifetime. Such a level that you are not permitted to read the Russian position. Literally. Americans are not allowed to know what the Russians are saying. Except, selected things. So, if Putin makes a speech to Russians with all kinds of outlandish claims about Peter the Great and so on, then, you see it on the front pages. If the Russians make an offer for a negotiation, you can’t find it. That’s suppressed. You’re not allowed to know what they are saying. I have never seen a level of censorship like this.”

Here is peace activist David Swanson who asserted about Russia’s pre-invasion demands that:

“These were perfectly reasonable, just what the U.S. demanded when Soviet missiles were in Cuba, just what the U.S. would demand now if Russian missiles were in Canada, and ought to have simply been met, or at the very least treated as serious points to be respectfully considered.”

Above is from here and one can also read Putin’s pre-invasion demands there. On Swanson’s website, above one of his posts, he had a banner that read: Russia Out of Ukraine; NATO Out of Existence.

Britain and France have both sent naval vessels to the Channel island of Jersey amid an escalating row over fishing rights.

Swanson points out that if these two NATO nations were to attack one another, all of the NATO countries would have to attack one another.

Fresh Air/NPR on March 1 aired an interview with Journalist Anne Applebaum who has been covering the war in Ukraine for The Atlantic. She essentially tried to paint Putin as irrational and there was this inane observation: “In other words, the Russians see us as an enemy, us — and I mean America and Western Europe and Central Europe. They perceive us as an enemy.”

Sheesh! And why not?

Atlantic magazine, can’t you do better than that? Or, Terry Gross, you just let that go by?

NATO military exercises take place in the Baltic states, nations which border Russia. Military exercises are a show of potential force. How much would the U.S. stand for military exercises across the Rio Grande if Mexico were a military ally of, say, China?

Possibly Putin is not quite the fiend we are being told he is:

“These Pentagon sources [in a leak] confirm what Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defense have been saying all along: that instead of being ‘stalled,’ Russia is executing a methodical war plan to encircle cities, opening humanitarian corridors for civilians, leaving civilian infrastructure like water, electricity, telephony and internet intact, and trying to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible.”

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky banned all opposition parties and banned the use of Russian as a second state language. … he violate[d] his 2019 campaign promise to stop the genocidal killing of thousands in Donbas [which means he was killing his own people].”

Won’t Get Fooled Again

A 1996 article in The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress [about the Viet Nam War — which in Viet Nam is called the American War].”

When NATO is expanded, it is a sales opportunity for U.S. arms merchants. NATO is, in part an arms bazaar.

To this end, check this out:

RAYTHEON CEO GREG HAYES WELCOMES E. EUROPEAN TENSION

We know the only people who will benefit from war with Russia are the war profiteers. Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes was quoted as remaining optimistic about rising tensions in Eastern Europe saying that he “fully expect[s]” that “we’re going to see some benefit from it.”

–CODEPINK e-mail of Feb 3, 2022

Notice that U.S. corporate media reporting shows that the U.S. is “all about” sending Ukraine more arms, talk of possible negotiations seems nonexistent, and who has ever heard that invasions can be nonviolently resisted such as what Denmark and Norway did in opposition to Nazi occupation (which is an answer to the eternal “What about Hitler?” question):

1940–1943 Denmark Danish resistance movement During World War II, after the invasion of the Wehrmacht, the Danish government adopted a policy of official co-operation (and unofficial obstruction) which they called “negotiation under protest.” Embraced by many Danes, the unofficial resistance included slow production, emphatic celebration of Danish culture and history, and bureaucratic quagmires.

1940–1945 Norway Norwegian resistance movement During World War II, Norwegian civil disobedience included preventing the Nazification of Norway’s educational system, distributing of illegal newspapers, and maintaining social distance (an “ice front”) from the German soldiers.

Here are many ideas for nonviolently resisting (some people in Ukraine have done some of these).

“Though it defies consensus, between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts.”

Of course, there is no guaranteeing that one will come out alive when nonviolently resisting, but there is certainly no guarantee that one will come out alive when violently resisting, in other words, when one is fighting.

Many nations abstained or did not vote on the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s actions:

(abstaining) China, India, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam; (not voting) Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela—[here] one sees that countries representing the majority of the world’s population and a huge portion of its land mass are not with the U.S. on this.

“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kind things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a press conference in Poland after returning from an unannounced visit to Ukraine.”

Trying to weaken Russia is hardly win-win (peaceful, coexistent diplomacy).

It takes more brains to negotiate peace than to pull triggers, drop bombs, and fire missiles.

Are Biden et al. not up to the task? Too stoopid?

You can write him urging negotiation here.

And Tammy “F-35’s” Baldwin here.

And Ron “illegal fake electors” Johnson here.

And Bryan “who doesn’t want to hear from you since his webform is spread over 4 pages not just one and his Racine office requires you to pass through the courthouse metal detector” Steil here.

(By the way, another current war tragedy is what Saudi Arabia is doing to Yemen with U.S. support and weapons.) 

Finally, all these efforts of the U.S. to fight to the last Ukrainian (a U.S. proxy war on Russia with the danger of escalation to planet-ruining nuclear war) neglect or impede efforts to properly deal with climate change and — abrupt changing of gears here! — unless you are using toilet paper made from post-consumer recycled paper, you are part of flushing forests and therefore wildlife habitat down the toilet! Please stop doing that! Corporations like Procter & Gamble (Charmin) are mowing down forests to make toilet paper.

Look for toilet paper made from post-consumer recycled paper such as Green Forest or Seventh Generation or order on-line — from an outlet other than mega-corporation Amazon (who doesn’t need your money), if possible.

I have seen TP made from bamboo and even sugar cane. I am not sure of the environmental impact of these.

Wow, you’ve read this far? Thank you!

Peace,

Mark M

Pacifist

Postscript, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022:

I’m digging (into) this:

Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump by Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian. Only 677 pages. From the publisher: “The authors pull back the curtain on how both parties pursued political expediency over fact-finding.”

Trump’s first impeachment had to do with him withholding military aid from Ukraine which was killing its own (Russian) citizens in the Donbas. Ukraine was violating the Minsk accord and the U.S. was helping.

So the irony is, Trump, unwittingly, was helping to bring peace — but for the wrong reason: He wanted Ukraine to supply him with dirt on Biden’s son to weaken Biden as a presidential opponent; in other words, seeking aid for his candidacy from a foreign nation in the upcoming presidential election. And that and only that is what pushed impeachment-reluctant Democrats, notably Nancy Pelosi, to finally impeach Trump who was already guilty of only about 24 other crimes.

In the preface, the authors assert that “one of Pelosi’s own chairmen warned her against taking procedural shortcuts” and “a conservative House Republican approached Pelosi on the chamber floor to tell her that he was open to impeaching the president — if only she would take the time to run a more complete investigation” — a good idea! and bipartisan!

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