Greatest Crime on Earth

By David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War
Remarks at No Bases Conference in Dublin, Ireland, November 18, 2018

I’m willing to bet that if I asked everyone in Ireland whether the Irish government should take orders from Donald Trump, most people would say no. But last year the Irish Ambassador to the United States came to the University of Virginia, and I asked her how allowing U.S. troops to use Shannon Airport to get to their wars could possibly be in compliance with Irish neutrality. She replied that the U.S. government “at the highest level” had assured her it was all perfectly legal. And she apparently bowed and obeyed. But I don’t think the people of Ireland are as inclined to sit and roll over on command as their ambassador.

Collaboration in crimes is not legal.

Bombing people’s houses is not legal.

Threatening new wars is not legal.

Keeping nuclear weapons in other people’s countries is not legal.

Propping up dictators, organizing assassins, murdering people with robotic airplanes: none of it is legal.

U.S. military bases around the world are the local franchises of the greatest criminal enterprise on earth!

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And NATO involvement doesn’t make a crime any more legal or acceptable.

A lot of people in the United States have trouble distinguishing NATO from the United Nations. And they imagine both of them as murder-laundering operations — that is, as entities that can render mass murder legal, proper, and humanitarian. A lot of people think the U.S. Congress possesses this same magical ability. A presidential war is an outrage, but a Congressional war is enlightened philanthropy. And yet, I have not found a single person in Washington, D.C. — and I’ve asked Senators and street vendors — not a single person who tells me they would give the slightest damn if Washington was being bombed whether it was being bombed at the order of a parliament, a president, the United Nations, or NATO. The view is always different from under the bombs.

The U.S. military and its European accomplices make up some three quarters of the world’s militarism in terms of their own investment in wars plus their dealing of weapons to others. Attempts to claim that an external threat exists have reached ludicrous levels. I can’t imagine weapons companies would like anything more than some intra-NATO competition. We need to tell advocates of a European military that you can’t oppose U.S. madness by imitating it. If you don’t want to buy more weapons on Trump’s orders, the answer is not to run off and buy even more under another name. This is a vision of a future dedicated to high tech barbarism, and we don’t have time for it.

We don’t have the years left to be monkeying around with medieval balances of power. This planet is doomed as a habitable place for us, and the hell that is to come can be lessened only by outgrowing the acceptance of war.

The answer to Trump is not to outdo him but to do the opposite of him.

A tiny fraction of what just the United States spends just on foreign bases could end starvation, the lack of clean water, and various diseases. Instead we get these bases, these toxic instigators of war encircled by zones of drunkenness, rape, and cancer-causing chemicals.

War and preparations for war are the top destroyers of our natural environment.

They are a top cause of death and injury and destruction.

War is the top source of the erosion of liberties.

The top justification for government secrecy.

The top creator of refugees.

The top saboteur of the rule of law.

The top facilitator of xenophobia and bigotry.

The top reason we are at risk of nuclear apocalypse.

War is not necessary, not just, not survivable, not glorious.

We need to leave the entire institution of war behind us.

We need to create a world beyond war.

People have signed the declaration of peace at worldbeyondwar.org in more countries than the United States has troops in.

People’s movements are on our side. Justice is on our side. Sanity is on our side. Love is on our side.

We are many. They are few.

No to NATO. No to bases. No to wars in distant places.

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