Admit It: Things Are Going Well

When something goes right
Oh, it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
—Paul Simon

Larry Summers has proven unacceptable to oversee the continued destruction of the U.S. economy.  The U.S. public has successfully rejected proposed missile strikes on Syria.  My Congressman was among the majority who listened.  Today was beautiful.  The Orioles won.  The Cowboys lost.  The University of Virginia avoided losing by not playing.  My family is expecting a new baby.  I’ve finished a new book, which Kathy Kelly has written a beautiful foreword for.  I have a sense that if the universe were right now campaigning on “hope and change” I might seriously consider voting for it.

I’m also pretty sure that if everything in my personal life were going slightly to hell and Larry Summers were crowned king of Wall Street, and the Dallas Cowboys were to win (darn them!), my sense of this moment in the movement against U.S. militarism would remain essentially the same.  A major victory has been won, and we need to claim it and celebrate it.

Imagine the euphoria — or don’t imagine it, just remember it — when this country elects a new president whose main redeeming feature is that he isn’t the previous president.  For personality fanatics that’s big stuff.  And there are big parties.  For policy fanatics — for those of us interested in seeing policies change rather than personalities — that kind of moment is right now.  We need some parties, and if spontaneity is beyond us, perhaps we can use the International Day of Peace on September 21st for a combination celebration / discussion during which we explain to ourselves that it really is OK to celebrate.

Yes, many people in this country and around the world are suffering horrible tragedies in their personal lives and as a result of public events.  Yes, the horrors in Syria, as in many other places, continue.  Yes, the CIA is arming terrorists in Syria.  Yes, the president whose missile strikes we prevented is taking credit for that restraint, just as he would have taken credit for the carnage had we not stopped him — and he’s threatening to bring the missile strikes back.  Yes, if we let down our guard for a moment, the president and Congress and the CIA will do their worst.  Yes, the danger for Iraq and Libya really loomed large after they had given up nuclear and chemical weapons, not before.  Yes, lots of people opposed bombing Syria because they didn’t think Syrians deserved such favors.  (No, I’m not making that up.)  Yes, the corporate media is pretending that the threat of war brought peace, ignoring the successful insistence on peace by the people of the world.

But that’s why we have to celebrate what really happened.  We have to announce it.  The point is not to take credit.  No one person or group did this.  People espousing a variety of ideologies did it.  And they did it over many years.  Millions contributed.  The point is that war was popularly rejected.

Why does this matter?  It’s not a case for optimism, or for pessimism.  I continue to have very little use for either bit of self-indulgence.  The forces that press for more wars have not gone away.  Neither have they been empowered.  The point is that those who nonsensically proclaim that stopping wars is impossible cannot get away with saying that anymore.

You know the types.  They show up at meetings, wait for the question-and-answer period, and then give a speech on how everything is utterly hopeless.  Those speeches should be laughed away within the first five seconds now.  And the many, many people who had begun ever so slightly to take that defeatist nonsense seriously can now be relieved of that weight.  The danger now is not of being a sucker who proclaimed good news just before a genocide.  The danger is of joining in the foolish campaign of the war propagandists by pushing the lie of powerlessness on people just after they prevented a war.

Do we still have to prevent a war again this week?  Of course, we do.  Do we have to take on the larger task of organizing peace and preventing crises?  We do.  Do we need to build a movement for the abolition of war that reaches beyond opposition to each immediate war proposal?  You’d better believe it.  But this is what we wanted in 2001 and 2003.  Well, some of us did — that’s the point.  We’re larger now, even if it’s not made visible.  As long as we went on failing to prevent wars, people could say we’d never prevent them.  There’s no science or logic behind such an assertion, but it still has power in it.  Or it did, until now.  Now we can claim with equal validity that we’ll stop every single war proposed from here on out.  Of course we might or we might not, but we know that it’s up to us, that it depends on what we do, that little steps that appear useless at the time can help, and that changes to our culture can outweigh changes to the Pentagon budget, the global climate, crises in capitalism, or any other supposedly unstoppable force.

After World War I, people in the United States understood the need to eliminate war.  Again, after Vietnam, many understood it almost that much.  They developed the Vietnam Syndrome, a level of healthy resistance to more wars lamented as a disease by Washington.  Now we’re moving back in that direction.  War resistance is the health of the people.  We’re not developing a syndrome.  We’re developing an immunity.  We’ve been vaccinated against war.  We’re not as allergic to the propaganda as we once were.  We’re war resistant, and our task is to compel those in power not to lament our syndrome this time, but to share in our contagious good health.

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  • Compound F

    nice piece, David. And I’ll leave it at that.

    • Tonto

      I won’t leave it at that.

      The article begins praising a disconnected, wild interpretation of series of events. “Larry Summers has proven unacceptable to oversee the continued destruction of the U.S. economy. The U.S. public has successfully rejected proposed missile strikes on Syria. My Congressman was among the majority who listened.”

      David Swanson, is the author of “War No More, The Case for Abolition”, “Daybreak, Undoing the Imperial Presidency And Forming a More Perfect Union”, “War is a Lie”, and “When the World Outlawed War”. Each book is available at his Internet site,

      However Swanson takes his solace at the current state of the imaginary battlefield upon which he wages his personal humanitarian war, he neither has a cogent goal, nor a tenable grasp of reality.

      Syria will be bombed back into the Stone Age.

      Larry Summers will be the new FED chair. He has been hand-picked by the bank interests. Summers’ resignation from the nomination process is more just a question of how to get him in there, without making too much of a ruckus in the media. This man is playing the role of Cincinnatus in reverse. Summers has resigned from the nomination process to ensure his election in the face of all the caterwauling about yet another Wall Street crook getting to run the printing presses.

      And the idea any Congressman representing his congressional district “listened” is his Congressman positioning his/her public stance to point it, and say to his constituents, “I came out (as if gay when he isn’t gay) against the war!”

      In fact, the recent posturing by Obama and Putin concerning hesitating before the dismantling of Syria was entirely contrived. We are now on a well-planned, and well-choreographed countdown to the day when Syria has not met the timetable of the impossible-to-meet demands of the contrived chemical weapon agreement supposedly made between the Russians and the Americans, but which was in fact wholly contrived by the CIA. The Russian-American alliance, post Yeltsin, has never been stronger. Things have not been this good in Russia in a thousand years. And, the power being sledge-hammered by the American empire has never landed heavier upon her foes.

      Those who have hope they as individuals are actually fixing the problem (they do not understand) by participating in it, are as much a part of the problem as those who then take their participation as support for their own ongoing efforts to fix a problem that cannot be fixed by any means that are acceptable to any humanitarian. The world is in an impossibly unstable state that cannot be sustained. No matter what solution might be arrived at, the carnage is going to be massively colossal. In fact, the carnage is already massively colossal in many areas of the world. The wildfires have already been lit.

      This is WW III. And everyone in Congress has voted for it at one time or another. They will continue to vote for it too. And they too, David Swanson, are humanitarians just like you.

      In part, it is the humanitarian ethic, a product of the empirical Enlightenment, that has sent the world over this precipice. Human beings simply cannot make a better world. Imagine the world before the Enlightenment. Is it now somehow better? No.

      Reality is infinitely complex, and messing with it, only ensures the constant degradation of our infinitely complex reality. And now it has come time to pay the consequences of being so naive as to believe a better world can be made by men calling themselves, humanitarians.

      • gozounlimited

        Words from a guy who can’t get published….. except here.

  • jadan

    It’s nice to have avoided war momentarily, but it’s not a victory for an anti-war constituency. There were massive demonstrations prior to the invasion of Iraq. Didn’t impress the ass hole in the WH at all. The difference between then and now is Russia. Putin put a stop to US/Israeli terror. Momentarily. Also, Obama heard the threat of impeachment lour & clear. These congressional voices are not anti-war per se, but anti-Obama. To prevent war, the military budget must be cut drastically so that the fools that constitute the National Security State cannot afford adventurism and dreams of world domination. Cutting the military budget in the only way to prevent war.

  • gozounlimited


  • sandman

    Maybe you should use the word immunized instead of vaccinated since vaccination is an injection of a virus compound (and all of the adverse side effects) and immunization is a natural defense after being exposed to disease (war).

  • hvaiallverden

    I have the pleshure to blow you every thing You think You know byound what it the truth.
    Can you even consider to handle something You havent any ide of, some parts maybe, but, if I give you something, totaly unexpected, and byound whats comenly known, would You consider it to be true.


    Can You handle the truth is a different matter.
    We as humans waist the Life Force, the One force that is there to create New life, children.
    We as humans luse this Life Force everytime we have unintended sex, or the real resaon for celibacy, forgotten, obviously, becasue THAT Life force IS NOT to be spoiled in vain, every time, WE luse The Life Force, and drains our body Of IT.
    Both of our sexes have lost their tuch of their inner world.
    But, Women have the best, energeticly conections to Mother Earth.
    The crack, hehe.
    We men must preserv, and when presved, it holds the amount beyound critical low levels, of Energy.
    To create, anything, is mutch more s sign of higher intelegence, and morale, than simply bestroying items.
    Huamsn to day are indeed holesly lead astray, and is becoming a slave, and have lost everything.
    No Life Foce at all.
    Substituted with materialsim.
    We all knopw the rest.

    Remeber this, and you have lived acordingly to the Creator, is to thread lightly, respect eveything, and danc, simply, otherwise, we gett just to f…. bored, and bordom is the first stepp to doom.

    I give this to you, and this will be a ride, I promise you this.
    Have a nice day.