Welcome David Swanson (Let’sTryDemocracy), and Host Scott Horton (Harper’sMagazine)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

When The World Outlawed War

David Swanson is a prominent anti-war activist who served as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign and as a communications coordinator for ACORN. He is perhaps best known for his sustained efforts to promote awareness of the Downing Street memo, the secret note of a July 23, 2002 meeting of British government officials that revealed that the Bush Administration’s plans to invade and occupy Iraq had been cast at least ten months before the actual invasion and that Washington was striving to piece together a legal pretext for the invasion—“intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” in its remarkable words. Although the Bush Administration and the Blair Administration both scrambled to deny the obvious import of the memo, it remains a highly damning document which could in fact figure in a prosecution of the war’s promoters on a war-of-aggression theory, if such a prosecution were ever to be mounted.

This perhaps can help us understand Swanson’s interest in the international movement to outlaw war (the “Outlawry movement”) from the 1920s, which is the subject of his current book, When the World Outlawed War. The Outlawry movement was global in its scope, but Americans assumed a clear position of leadership. Swanson portrays a “hot tempered Republican from Minnesota,” Frank B. Kellogg, who as Calvin Coolidge’s secretary of state, brought the effort to surprising fruition with the execution of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 which provided “for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy.” But his work features a parade of dimly remembered figures from U.S. history who played equally important roles. The book resurrects “the ubiquitous Salmon Oliver Levinson,” a corporate lawyer from Chicago who was persuaded that his clients’ interests were invariably better served by agreements than by litigation, and who took a similar attitude towards affairs of state. And it recalls Senator William Borah, the prominent Idaho Republican, whose ascendency to the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at just the right moment helped put the movement over the top by insuring Senate ratification.

Today we live in an America where the “robust” use of military force sits at the core of a bipartisan foreign policy consensus, where media streams speakers building a case for war against various countries almost continuously and where those who question bellicose rhetoric are instantly derided as weak and dangerously idealistic. Swanson’s book reminds us that less than a century ago the political landscape in America was dramatically different. At the heart of the Republican Party were men (and a few women) who expressed open skepticism about the benefits that war and military resources could ever hope to bring, and who systematically opposed foreign entanglements. Church groups pressed aggressively for reconciliation and an international peace process. University presidents, like Columbia’s Nicholas Murray Butler and prominent academics like John Dewey were enlisted as leading public advocates of the peace cause. Democrats regularly questioned the nation’s colonialist ambitions and the costs associated with them. When a case was made for war, it was discussed loudly, even hotly on the public stage, benefits and costs were claimed and efforts were made to mobilize public opinion on both sides. Significantly, the case for and against war tended to cut through both political parties and engendered passionate feelings. Most significantly, the size of the military establishment at this time was miniscule compared to today and there was little role played in the public debate by the interests of a defense industry.

It is remarkable that this period—the decade following World War I—produced an enormous backlash against the warmongering of the war period and caused disparate threads from across America (but especially from the Midwestern heartland) to unite in the cause of peace.

Swanson believes that this era has something valuable for us today, and that its prime accomplishment, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is worthy of being studied and remembered. Indeed it is troubling that it and the entire era that gave rise to it are so little recalled today. Swanson’s call for a more suitable national remembrance is surely worth taking up.

Welcome David Swanson to the FDL Book Salon. We’re open now for questions directed to the author.

120 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Swanson, When The World Outlawed War”

BevW January 7th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

David, Scott, Welcome back to the Lake.

Scott, Thank you for Hosting this Book Salon.

dakine01 January 7th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Good afternoon David and Scott and welcome back to FDL this afternoon.

David, forgive me if you answer this in the book but was this move to outlaw war at least a partial reaction to the failure of the US to ratify the League of Nations treaty? Especially since if I remember my history correctly, it was the Rs who were most emphatically against the League of nations?

(It’s also interesting to me that I read a diary at MyFDL earlier this afternoon where William Borah played a not-so-positive role)

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:03 pm


PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Hi David, and Scott. David, I’m very interested in hearing about your new book. I also wish to thank you for your interest in OWS.

Scott Horton January 7th, 2012 at 2:04 pm


Here’s an opener for you.

It’s amazing that last year with the U.S. enmeshed in a record three (or at least two and a half) wars–Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya–hardly a voice on the national political stage could be heard questioning war, and, indeed, in the presidential campaign only a single voice: that of Texas Congressman Ron Paul. He now routinely opens his campaign stump speech excoriating G.O.P. foreign policy dogma from the last two decades, calling the wars a tragic mistake, and pleading with his listeners to view the whole situation from the perspective of the average Iraqi or Afghan. Yet Ron Paul is widely attacked in the mainstream media as “unelectable” and as a “nutter” precisely because of his views about war-making. To what extent do you see echos of the Republicans of the Coolidge era–like Kellogg and Borah–in Ron Paul’s rhetoric? To what extent do you think this sort of reticence about the use of military force–usually derided as “isolationism” in the U.S. media–might be making a comeback among Republicans?

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 2:05 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 2

Great question. I’d also like his views on the current battle in congress re: Iran and declaration of war.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

The cover art is my favorite antiwar sculpture.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:06 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 2

this is a lot of what the book is about. part of the peace movement was internationalist and wanted alliances and things like the league. part was isolationist, saw the league as roughly what had created the Great War, preferred to stay away. The movement to outlaw war did not want to use war to end war. So it found great sympathy in the isolationist half of the US peace movement. When both sides united behind outlawing war, something finally got past the highest hurdle: the US Senate. And that thing was Kellogg Briand

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Aloha, David and Scott…!

I’m a big fan of both of your relentless efforts to expose our misbegotten Foreign Policy fiascos…! Keep up the awesome work…!

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 2

read my book for a more complete view of Borah who was certainly flawed but did a lot more good – frank church was in his tradition as well as his position as a senator from idaho, if nto his Party

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 5

I’m not sure it wasn’t more wars than that. Certainly if people in the 1920s had had explained to them what the US govt is doing with drones in at least a half dozen countries, and with secret death squads in others, after getting over their amazement at both our technology and our depravity, they would have considered these things acts of war.

Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein are also running, and I encourage people to vote for them here: http://stophoping.org

Paul is not just better than Obama and the other Republicans on foreign policy. He is actually really really good on foreign policy. I think understanding the tradition of Outlawry from the 1920s as opposed to just the notion of Isolationism can help us better understand and appreciate both the 1920s and some of today’s Libertarians or Republicans. As I describe in the book, there are some parallels between Paul and then Senate Foreign Relations Chair William Borah, Republican from Idaho. But there were no Borahists, only Outlawrists. We should not identify people and people should not identify themselves as followers of an individual, a trend that seems to parallel the rise of the imperial president, the rise of top-down parties as dispensers of cash to their two bands of servants in Washington, and the dumbing down and distancing of civil life in our culture.

I think Paul would be an atrociously bad president because of his domestic policies, and because of the delusional worldview that underlies them. And that worldview is tightly connected with his foreign policy outlook. But on foreign policy it works. Or at least it makes for a huge step back from the disastrous policies of the moment. I want international law, but Paul at least wants to comply with existing international law, and it amounts to most of what we need. The drive to enforce the law and impose it on others, when exercised by the world’s primary violator of the law (that’d be us) is counter-productive. Paul wants diplomacy in place of force. He wants disarmament. He wants representative government and Constitutional restraint.

But we as activists should join together as progressives and libertarians or whatever other labels, not as worshippers of individuals who brings baskets of contentious unrelated topics to the table. We should get together on specific points we agree on. We all want the Military Industrial Complex curtailed. We all agree that whether those cutbacks go into tax cuts or useful spending they will be a step forward. So let’s demand the cuts. We even agree on demanding them in the name of peace, not just savings. Those demanding greater efficientcies and less waste want the same level of killing at a lower financial price. THAT’s harder for me to work with. I think there has always been good intentions

I think the media’s hostility for Paul is for his foreign policy primarily but also for domestic, and the attacks are of course made on domestic policy more than the underlying motivation for the hostility.

The other interesting phenomenon your question suggests is that of progressives placing party loyalty above their interest in any decent foreign policy at all or – truth be told – much on the domestic front.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 4

all goes together

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 2:09 pm


During the writing of this book did you look at the Atlantic Council and how it plays a significant part of our foreign policy and wars?

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 5

Would also like an A to your Q. 9/11 would be the obvious, but since the casualties were so low, it’s hard for me to see how the PTB were able to gin up so much aggression among the U.S. pop (I know, I know, attacked on our own soil, well our own glass & steel anyhow). Channeling Zinn, 99ers have routinely been antiwar.

WRT Paul, he is a nutter in every other way than being antiwar.

And can you imagine listening to that voice for 4 years…

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 6

Re Iran I’ve just posted the various reasons an attack would be illegal from Francis Boyle: http://warisacrime.org/content/why-would-attacking-iran-be-illegal-francis-boyle-counts-ways

And here is the longer list of reasons it would be crazy: http://dontattackiran.org

Iran has complied with the KBPact since signing it, in that it has not attacked another nation. It has however fought a defensive war against Iraq. The question of defensive wars is an intricate one dealt with at length in the book. Well, some length. It’s a short book.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 11

The other interesting phenomenon your question suggests is that of progressives placing party loyalty above their interest in any decent foreign policy at all or – truth be told – much on the domestic front.

99ers have never had any influence on U.S. foreign policy.

BTW, I count something like 15 U.S. wars right now, when you add in pretend-leaving, active, drone warfare, covert warfare, drug wars, etc. etc.

hpschd January 7th, 2012 at 2:14 pm


David, thanks for your books. I’ve read “War is a Lie” and I’m in the middle of “When the World Outlawed War”
(Got them from http://davidswanson.org)

I was amazed about the support that the Kellog-Briand pact got after WWI. The reaction the war seemed to be that ‘We had better not let that happen again’. Clearly the pact was the argument for the Nuremberg trials.

What I am wondering is why there was not a similar reaction to WWII which caused much more death and destruction and more deaths to the general population.

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 15

Thank you. I thought I remembered the KB Pact, but so much stuff clouds the memory.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 6

In the 20s it went without saying that major wars against wealthy armed countries would be declared by Congress, which happened for some wars up until 1941. The question was whether the Constitution would be amended to require a public referendum before a war. That movement almost succeeded in the 1930s and FDR blocked it in Congress. It would have been an ideal case to take outside Congress through an article V convention, as it would be today and as is MoveToAmend.org today re corporate personhood. Now the question of course is whether we will find out about the wars early in their prosecution and whether any token atrocities will be prosecuted. Very very different, and the change has been gradual from the 1920s and accelerating lately. 20 years ago Panetta wanted economic conversion, now he thinks 2007 levels of military spending would kill us all but somehow miraculously didn’t

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 7

I like it a lot and couldn’t think of anything better.

Scott Horton January 7th, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Among international law scholars there has been a tendency to cite Kellogg-Briand’s band on war as a means of accomplishing national policy as merely hortatory or aspirational because no enforcement mechanism was provided in the treaty, and even after World War II, when the opportunity was clearly present, there was enormous reluctance on the party of the victorious powers to pursue “wars of aggression” charges at Nuremberg and at the Tokyo Tribunal. How do peace advocates use the Kellogg-Briand precedent in light of this?

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 9

Thanks. And don’t say Aloha unless you’re inviting us to Hawaii! Although I’ve always kind of not wanted to go there and never have, because we stole it and the way we stole it encouraged Washington to steal a lot of other things. When you read my book you’ll see that one of Kellogg’s subordinates’ in the State Dept was the heir to an exploit-hawaii fortune, and he thought the peace pact was all pretense and was outraged when Kellogg got serious and insisted on actually doing it

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 13

I did not and am under the impression it did not exist in the 1920s. ?? Still, send anything important you’ve got on it to david at davidswanson.org or post here now. My other book “War Is A Lie” is more comprehensive and I can more easily be blamed for all kinds of things not being in it :-)

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 21

Love your use of the word hortatory. I use it a lot myself bc it seems apt wrt most of what pols, pundits, and all sides of the political spectrum engage so tiresomely in. Hillary was once heard to express exasperation at some senate testimony at the testifiers “list of hortatories.”

David, wrt KBP, how does that tie in with Fromkin’s Peace to End All Peace. The two would seem to be at loggerheads, as Fromkin argues that the indecisive (in a manner of speaking) outcome of WWI, and the ‘awkward’ division of the ME by western powers, rather than generating a peace movement, generated a strong push to WWII.

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 23

Pffft. Not blaming anything. Just wanted to know if you had an opportunity to look into it.

It is a council that advises the President and Foreign Policy committee on, well… foreign policy. It is mainly filled with CEO types from the MIC and other rape/pillage corps.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 14

Let me know if I haven’t answered something. 911 as propaganda is not about numbers. More people are killed by cars, stairs, drugs, guns, etc. It’s the fear of terrorist attack, which I do discuss in “War Is A Lie.” That being said, there has never been majority support for much of what has been done in the name of 911. Majority support for war in afghanistan faded, and if it was there for Iraq it faded fast. It was never there for Libya. The problem is when you lower the cost in US lives and dollars. Then some US residents are happy to support the most vile policies. This is why I admire the peace movement of the 1920s which focused less on US veterans and tax dollars and more on the immorality of killing people.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:26 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 16

which 15?

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 16

never had any influence is a bit too blanket, i think

i think the US military would still be more heavily in Iraq and newly in a few other countries now, if not for us, if it ever left vietnam

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:30 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 26

I was 5 miles away from WTC on 9/11. I have been amazed at how much jingoism could be aroused elsewhere in the U.S. outside of Manhattan.

WRT to death toll, more U.S.ians are killed by dogs than by terriss in a year, leading me to suggest that terriss replace dogs as man’s best friend.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:34 pm
In response to hpschd @ 17

well, the propaganda behind WWI demanded an end to war. the propaganda behind WWII demanded an end to Nazis and the Japanese Empire plus the machinery in place to prevent them by force from ever happening again — WWII built on what WWI had built and the key decisions came at its end — including the downside of victors’ justice. Peace activists even before WWII happened, as before WWI happened, knew the greatest danger would lie in one side WINNING it. When the USA won WWII (yes the Russians won it more, etc) the propaganda was not turned off for peace time, the military was not disbanded for peace time, taxes were not reduced to the same extent for peace time, civil liberties were not fully restored, representative government was not fully restores, etc., instead we saw the major establishment of a permanent war state with a CIA, a NSAdvisor, Air Force, etc. Post WWII war was not a mistake backward Europeans dragged us into. It was the thing we were best at. And we were going to use it for people’s own good. The Korean War is the sort of thing better opposed by outlawrists than by LEague of Nations proponents. War as policing. War as humanitarianism. This is with us now. The outlawry movement is the antidote. Don’t just read my book, but go back and read John Dewey and Salmon Levinson and Charles Morrison etc

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 28

The version I like of why the U.S. is “not in Iraq” (ahem) is bc Sistani demanded the vote, and if a majority wins, it is not a good outcome for occupying troops bc the locals don’t need them vs. situation if minority controls govt. Second major influence was wikileaks, which made it politically impossible for Maliki to grant extraterritoriality. Think U.S. 99ers had almost no influence.

TarheelDem January 7th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

David, thanks for all that you do.

I have been convinced that we would not have had anti-war sentiment at all had it not been for the movement that started in the 19th century and culminated in the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Without that movement, war would still be seen as inevitable as death and taxes instead of something that must be stopped.

Why exactly did the accomplishment fail? What must future efforts be aware of in that failure and figure out how to make it work. For a lot of people involved, the United Nations was intended to be the postwar reassertion of the determination to outlaw war. So one has to ask at what points has the UN failed to be that and why?

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 27

Iraq (pretend leaving), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, 4 in central Africa, Libya, Palestine, Mexico, Colombia, Iran. I forget the 15th; it’s been awhile since I enumerated.

Jane Hamsher January 7th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 5

You forgot Joe Manchin, the only Democrat in the Senate who dares utter a word against the war any more, now that the Dems own it:


He’s probably one of those “allies not worth having” either.

I’m trying to adjust my world view to this new “better to lose on your own than join with people you don’t like and win” mentality.

It’s not going very well.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 21

As you know, the KB Pact was crafted to avoid creating a crime of aggressive war. It sought to make all war a crime, or rather to “denounce” all war and to require pacific settlement of all disputes. Mechanisms to enforce treaties need to be created internationally and domestically. As I recount in the book, FDR was talked into using KBP at Nuremberg and Tokyo, but it was used in a perverse way that created a crime of aggressive war. We also hear that the KBPact has been superceded by the UN Charter which allows wars in defense and wars by UN authorization. The trouble with these loopholes is illustrated by the Afghan and Iraq Wars fought against poor distant countries without UN authorization but with claims of legality under those two streched loopholes. The KBP is much clearer: no war period. Even getting people to understand the UN Charter as a means of facilitating as much as preventing war would be intellectual progress. But I don’t think we need to accept that the UN Charter erases the KB Pact. The UN Charter has no effective means of enforcement either. The ICC will take up charges of war as a crime in 6 more years unless the war is UN approved or defensive or favored by a member of the UNSC. We need what the Outlawrists and others before and since wanted: a truly international court and body of law. But we also need the cultural change in the greatest purveyor of violence on earth that would eliminate some of the war making.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:41 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 18

Get rid of your television! :-)

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 21

Also: peace advocates do not use the KBP. Almost none of them have heard of it, and those who have heard of it haven’t read it, and those who have read it don’t know what it is, with very very few exceptions.

Scott Horton January 7th, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 34

There are actually a small, but respectable number of voices in both the Senate and House who have raised questions, Jane. Think of Congressman Walter Jones from North Carolina, for instance, a very conservative Republican, and a half dozen Democrats. But I was focusing on the candidates for president, because they seem to “command the stage” in the media these days.

hpschd January 7th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

One of the most interesting points about the Outlawry movement was the position that sanctions, embargoes, and financial pressures were not to be part of ‘punishment’. No KBP world court was ever established so it is not clear how the pact could have worked.

It appears that now diplomacy is out of favor. Currently Iran is being pressured by sanctions and it has to be clear that these have not worked in the past and won’t do anything but aggravate the situation.

Or is that the intention? (I ask naively)

Jane Hamsher January 7th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 11

Thanks for being here today David, and for writing this.

I continue to be puzzled at the weather vane political perspective which changes direction almost effortlessly with the prevailing winds, and the weird tribal bonds that facilitate that. There isn’t any principle there apparently, just an “us good them bad” conviction capable of rationalizing away the even the most appalling contradictions.

If the Iraq “withdrawal” is such a party triumph, shouldn’t everyone be crediting George Bush for negotiating the SOFA agreement? I don’t think I’ve heard that yet.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 24

WWI did create momentuim for WWII. The ME, but also the Versailles Treaty, the fear of the Soviets encouraging support for rightwingers in Germany, the advances of the military industrial complex, the bitterness on all sides, the failure to begin developing a culture of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance, the funding of eugenics and other racist pursuits, etc. The KBP was pushing against a tide. It prevented some wars. It stimulated more work for peace. It advanced peace education in schools. It was not part of the problem. It just wasn’t enough of a solution. Its advocated knew this. They knew their work would take decades and probably centuries. They did nto find that fact relevant to their determination to enjoy working for what needed to be worked for. They did not however expect the common current tendency to say “Oh they tried and failed so let’s not pick up the baton and advance it further on our generation.” If they could see that I would be deeply ashamed of us.

mzchief January 7th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 35

YESSSSS! { *enthusiastic clapping* }

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 25

Sorry – not balaming you for blaming :-)

Jane Hamsher January 7th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 38

Well, then there’s Gary Johnson, who describes himself as “the only former governor running for President still popular in his home state.” The GOP and the media effectively kept him in the wilderness. His third party run, if he can manage it, could have an interesting impact.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 29

excellent idea

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 31

Iraqis get most of the credit of course for the US somewhat leaving Iraq. I was just pointing out that we have some power here — and much more that we do not use, I would add. I also LOVE that a week after Obama claimed the power to hold prisoners in Bagram forever and ever without even a pretense of review of who they are or why they’re held, Karzai demanded they all be turned over in a month. I’d like us to have a little bit of THAT.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 32

The movement goes way way back of course and in some sense started in the 18th century, in another sense started in 1918, etc. But the UN of course does NOT outlaw war. It outlaws wars that are not defensive or UN approved. It is very hard to find any party in any war that does not claim to be defensive, and hard to find a US-approved war that does not end up gaining some sort of UN approval. So the UN is deeply flawed. Yes, it encouraged diplomacy, it uses peacekeepers, etc. This is not black and white. But Outlawry needs to be revived. And the best piece of paper we can hold up is KBP, not the UN Charter.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 33


eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 41

Very thoughtful answer. I especially liked

failure to begin developing a culture of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance,

. That would be a HUGE lesson for today as everything about U.S. society, from children’s bullying, , to Black Friday retail sales, to sectarian & secular ‘values’ conflicts, to immigrants, to USB policies, both foreign & domestic, uses violence as the first line of ‘attack’ (pun intended).

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 34

I’ll watch that after this. Republicans are better at opposing wars when the president is a Dem, and vice versa. But war powers have been not only identified with presidents but formally given to them. This guarantees war regardless of party, and that was known and dealt with by the founders of this country – slave owning oligarchs as they may have been. This was the topic of my earlier book “Daybreak.”

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 41

How much do you think the harshness of the Versailles Treaty’s demand for War reparations actually influence Hitler’s rise, and, on the ME side, how much the Brit’s arbitrary lines drawn in the sands, fostered much of the discord…? Such as; splitting up the Kurds three different ways, the Durand line(Af/Pak), Palestine, etc…!

hpschd January 7th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Got to run out and tune a harpsichord.

I’ve been looking forward to this book salon.
I consider “WtWOW” and “War is a Lie” to be the most important books I’ve read in a long time.

Stop war it before it starts!

Be back ASAP.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 34

I think you’re right that that mentality exists and is a problem. The failure of the peace movement to form an uncomfortably large coalition between 1918 and 1927 helps account for why little got done, and the creation of that coalition in 1927 accounts for the KBP’s existence. It also explains why Kellogg was cursing peace activists in 1927 and working for them in 1928.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 46

The other body of reasons why I see U.S.ians having no influence on USG policy is that 9/11 has been the excuse for making domestic conditions so much worse. Airport ‘security’ by a bunch of thugs. The whole DHS. Militarization of domestic police forces (need I mention CIA ops with NYC cops). Drones used to target poor marginal farm family in one of the Dakotas. Example after example of increasing brutality at home.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 38

That’s right there ARE voices. Democratic leaning types often raise concern about how someone like Paul with all of his prestige is dismissed by the corporate media, ignoring both the fact that the media is reducing his prestige and – more to the point – the fact that Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich etc lack prestige for two reasons: the corporate media hates their pacifism, and Demo-activists don’t speak up for it. Democrats put warmongers like Jim Webb in the Senate as their idea of a peace advicate with prestige, the prestige of course deriving from the officials total contempt for peace.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 51

Not to be excessively picky, but Durrand concept is owing to Brits during Great Game, formalized in 1893 according to its wiki. (Reading a book about Brit invasion of Afghanistan in 1830s, so more up to speed on this than I might otherwise be.)

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to hpschd @ 39

Clearly the intention of many is to use sanctions as a stepping stone to war in Iran, as in Iraq and other cases. Others think that sanctions is a politically (funder and media) safe compromise between the rightwing position of bomb it now and the liberal position of bad mouth it and accept the lies about it but try not to start a war unless you really want to, which is actually not a position at all.

Scott Horton January 7th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

David, you portray a number of fascinating figures in your book. Are there any of them you think could serve as a positive role for politicians and antiwar advocates today?

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:07 pm


How much of the anti-war movement in the 1920′s do you think might have hinged on the Brits in India or if any?

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 40

It’s bizarre the extent to which people like Tom Hayden go to credit Obama with the Bush Maliki SOFA because Obama was the Democratic candidate. The fact is that there was a peace movement that contributed to the SOFA and dragged the Democratic PArty and Republican Parties a little ways in the right direction. Obama was the non-McCain at that time. But he has done everything he could to work for war, including struggling to violate the SOFA and now violating it. And the peace movement shut itself down because of him, and those arguments crediting him with having existed in 2008 only help to keep it shut down.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 44

and huntsman – he looked sane in that lineup of loons in the one R debate i accidentally flipped onto

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 49

here’s a review i just wrote of a good book on that topic http://davidswanson.org/node/3498

there is evidence that — as advocated for a Dept of Peace say — violence of many types can rise and fall together, but there are major exceptions to that rule that may yet kill us all

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 55

Paul, Kucinich, Sanders and their ilk are allowed to say & vote any damn well they please bc they are so irrelevant. None have ever been tested in positions of power. The classic example being Kucinich’s hangdog perf when he caved to alpha male dog on health care reform.

Corp media are part of that, but by no means the perps. In alpha male societies, everyone will gang up on the weak if there is no countervailing force.

Humans are alpha male by evolutionary standards, but have made efforts from time to time to break from (IMO a dysfunctional but evolutionarily undeniability built into human genes). Which is why I liked your earlier comment about fostering other conflict resolution methods.

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 56

My point was how capricious and arbitrary the Brits were in drawing their lines, M’dear…! Ironically, the US Sugar Plantation owners here in Hawai’i, we’re extremely disturbed at the prospect of Queen Lilioukalani pursuing membership in the Commonwealth, and had a contingent of Marines from a US Navy ship march on Iolani Palace and placed her under palace arrest…!

Kevin Gosztola January 7th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Hello, David and Scott. Thanks for being here today.


What do you think are areas of vulnerability or possible points where citizens could apply pressure to make peace a more important issue right now? I’m wondering if you can think of anything specific right now that deserves relentless attention where you think a movement could really gain traction because the Obama Administration is vulnerable. Perhaps, this would even be a story that you would suggest journalists investigate or track more closely.

TarheelDem January 7th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I find it very interesting that the treaty is still in effect and the US is still an active signatory to it. That means that it is possible to have the signatories that have had a change of regime since 1929 (Germany, Japan,…) to reaffirm their status and to encourage the remainder of the nations to become signatories. The original signatorieswere “Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Romania, the Soviet Union, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Siam, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. Eight further states joined after that date: Persia, Greece, Honduras, Chile, Luxembourg, Danzig, Costa Rica and Venezuela.”

OK, suppose that all of the current UN members (and any other nations) became ratified signatories to the Kellogg-Briand pact? What has to happen to make that commitment real? It is as it stands a contract among nations with no means of enforcement. Yes, public pressure, but public pressure for what?

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:13 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 60

The diff betw Rs and Ds in foreign policy is that Ds want to bomb them for humanitarian reasons too.

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:13 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 54

There is an active posse of CIA and FBI going after anti-war activists. It stems from Little Georgie’s great speach of, “yer either wit us or again us”, and if you don’t support war you support the turrists.

People have been cowed by propaganda and our intell agencies. Can you imagine that we pay these agencies to operate and they target the hands that feed them?

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 51

I have not researched that ME history in any kind of depth at all but know that in the analysis of many MEerners — or Western Asians perhaps I should say — it is very significant.

There is no question that the TReaty of Versailles was a huge factor in the rise of Hitler and the return of war. In a sense war never went away. Borah may have been an isolationist who had never left his own country, but he knew enough to want GErmany’s debts forgiven while demanding the allies pay up. The peace movement knew enough to feel hugely betrayed by Wilson the day the treaty came out — and they said so that day. Jane Addams understood it instantly. It wasn’t hard.

Wilson more closely parallels Obama I think than does Clinton or anyone else in terms of being a vicious warmonger beloved for his rhetoric by peace advocates. In both cases the rhetoric is not without value. But it also hides the more significant policy direction.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to hpschd @ 52

we want a video once it’s tuned!

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 64

The Brits were not capricious in drawing lines. Divide & conquer is well known 1%er tactic. It was deliberate. Baluchis too, lest we forget. And much of Africa.

That has been one of the interesting themes of 21st C. How those earlier, deliberately created conflicts of western ‘powers’ played out in the longer term.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 54

Those are ways in which war damages civil rights, as it damages representative government, democracy, the economy, the natural environment, etc. Check out my NEXT book: http://mic50.org But those are not evidence that we have zero power of course. Wilson would have LOVED the DHS. There was pushback and improvement after his abuses. We need to do the same.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 69

Wilson more closely parallels Obama I think than does Clinton or anyone else in terms of being a vicious warmonger beloved for his rhetoric by peace advocates.


The other Scott Horton, the one who does interviews on antiwar.com, just lurves to denigrate Wilson for exactly that.

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:23 pm


Here are the links for you and all others interested in the Atlantic Council:



David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 58

As you noted, I think that Salmon Oliver Levinson should be a household name. Jane Addams perhaps almost is but should be moreso. Same with John Dewey. But there were always great peace advocates, or at least for the preceding half century and ever since. The politicians then were better because the whole culture was better and the corruption less built into the system. And that’s what was unique about the period: peace was mainstream. Academics, politicians, robber barons, reformers of all types favored peace, and peace meant ending war. Now it’s OK to be for peace on earch on Christmas as long as you don’t oppose a war or the war machine. And even though militarism is a huge contributor to what is being fought by environmentalists, civil libertarians, etc, they tend as major groups to avoid opposing militarism. We would all be stronger together, and we could all learn from the way the Outlawrists thought and wrote in all of their articles, books, and pamphlets. We may not have as much time to work with as they thought we would, but their confidence and willingness to work for major longterm change is an inspiration and example, their choice not to pick sides and be subsumed by partisan electoral politics, their focus on education, their emphasis on morality — they have a lot to offer.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 76

robber barons, reformers of all types favored peace

Wow. I had no idea any robber baron favored peace. Could you cite examples? And are there any today?

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 59

I think opposition to colonialism and hypocrisy among advocated of peace within wealthy nation governments was marginal. There was an Anti-Imperialist League protest at the dock in NYC as Kellogg sailed to sign the Peace Pact in Paris. I would have been with the protesters. But there more principled position made the position of outlawing war a middle ground. This is another lesson for us. If you want the left in Washington to be any good, there has to be a REAL left outside of it. The 20s and 30s saw proposals for disarmament, public referendum war power, withdrawal from Nicaragua and Mexico and the whole Monroe Doctrine, serious power for 3rd and 4th Parties (Socialists and Progressives). Let this too be a lesson to us :-)

Gitcheegumee January 7th, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 33

War isn’t waged much in countries where the big bucks are offshored,are they??

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 77

They were not necessarily Globalized back then. If the economy stalled and all efforts went to the warz, then they lost revenue.

TarheelDem January 7th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 75

I just looked at the board of directors. The very long list of directors is like a roster of the permanent and bipartisan foreign policy establishment. Sure would like to the NASCAR sponsor patches by their names.

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 81


They also practice that age old profession of prostitution, er revolving doors.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 63

Kucinich calculates that he cannot get elected outside of the Dem Party. Of course now he may get dumped within it. The Dems in the Ohio State Leg helped merge his district with a less progressive Dem’s. Kaptur is not the worst, but we should be trying to reelect Kucinich. Sure, he caved on healthcare. I would not have. I told him not to. I immediately and publicly condemned his doing so. But he had seniors and labor picketing his office convinced by his television and the liberal groups and union presidents that he was anti-healthcare. He should have announced that he was caving because our communications system was broken rather than announcign that he was caving because he had been converted to all the misleading claims about Obamacare. But we need voices for our views in Washington even if they tend to cave. We do not however need them as badly as many other things. Most of our energy and money should go into buildign an independent Occupy movement. That’s the lesson I take from the 20s and other periods too.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 80

Robber baron era was one of the many globalization efforts of U.S. trade. Domestic demand fell short for much the same reasons as now, i.e., not enough income of domestic consumers to buy excess domestic production. So U.S. went looking to, militarily, find ‘consumers’ for robber baron production.

Scott Horton January 7th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

David, when the U.S. and other powers wage war, they regularly invoke the right of self-defense as the justification. Didn’t this concept figure in the process of ratifying the Kellogg-Briand Pact? Has it been the “exception that swallows the rule” ever since?

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to Kevin Gosztola @ 65

I think one is Iran: http://dontattackiran.org

I think another is the potential for cuts to the military budget, the fact that any cuts will be spun as economically disastrous when the reverse is true. They will also be spun as dangerous to us, although the reverse is true — not just the negation but the reverse: http://mic50.org

I think the power grabs is another rich area. It’s true that the usual suspects would have objected to the NDAA if Obama had been a Republican, but they wouldn’t have meant it, because that Republican would be followed by Democrats as Obama will be followed by Republicans. The people of the country however — including both Occupy and Tea Party and others — are prepared to take on issues of power abuse now despite the necessity of blaming both Bush and Obama — which combination also helps cut through the partisan suspicions.

Related: drone wars, death squads, renditions, assassinations, prisons.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 83

Thanks for the inside view of Kucinich. Mine, of course, is the outside view. Which is bc his vote didn’t count he could do any damn thing he pleased, and his caving, esp the body language of it (won’t look for the youtube right now, but it was truly classic) was completely unnecessary, and very counterproductive for him as well as us. At least Sanders fights back rhetorically even if that does no good for us and is a freebe for him. Kucinich didn’t even rise to that level.

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:38 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 84

Okay, but I thought that was more in the 30′s and 40′s which caused the Swiss and Americans, along with French to support German buisness men. I guess I need to re-read that era.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 66

The U.S. State Department lists the treaty as still in force with these current nations as parties, some of them having joined relatively recently: Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, former members of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela.

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 85

Another, less favorable way of framing KBP, is: Was it dead letter law on the day it was passed (like posse comitatus).

eCAHNomics January 7th, 2012 at 3:40 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 88

Yes, it goes back a couple of decades earlier in history.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 73

Ray McGovern is one of the driving forces and you should read such things on http://warisacrime.org Very valuable. Also see the speeaches at the most recent Sam Adams awards on therealnews.com

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 75


David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 77

today? not that i know of
You can guess who funded the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.
Read the book!

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 86

*heh* I liked your bumper sticker slogan, David…! Don’t Iraq Iran

TarheelDem January 7th, 2012 at 3:45 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 89

Have all the former Soviet Republics reaffirmed their status to the Kellogg-Briand treaty? If so, that’s over a third of UN membership. It is interesting to note the important exceptions.

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 92

Been there, done that…! Btw, Col. Ann Wright is truly my heroine…! ;-)

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 85

The right of self-defense predated KBP. The question was how much it would dominate it. In the end it was left out of the treaty or any formal reservation, at least by the US to the treaty. But it was understood, including by the US Senate as remaining untouched by the treaty. In the Outlawrist view, a civilizing process had done away with blood feuds, slavery, and dueling. And defensive duelling had not been retained. There was no need to retain defensive war. Individual defense was not done by duelling. National defense would not be done by war. Individuals went to arbitration or court. Nations would do the same. There was an understanding that among big wealthy nations it took two to tango. This understanding improves our comprehension of such incidents as Pearl Harbor, by the way. The problem is that with Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan it does not take two. So there is a notion that defensive war is needed among opponents of US wars, just as among those who imagine US wars are defending the US. But defensive war preparation does not begin to justify the US military budget and empire.

Scott Horton January 7th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

David, how to you think the United States should remember the Kellogg-Briand Pact?

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 95

I like it too.

I’d like to send one to Isreal that says, Don’t Holocaust Iran.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 90

it pervented wars in manchuria, it established practice of not recognizing war gains, it led to prosecutions of warmaking as a crime for the very first time — This is like saying the 10 commandments were dead on day 1 because we still have murder. FBP advanced our culture, but it’s starting to slip and needs to continue advancing.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 95

i think it’s very very valuable that iraq has made people aware of war lies and that the iran war lies are so similar. if we can’t keep people opposed to attacking iran under these circumstances, when can we?

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:54 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 96

Worth pursuing with the State Department, and you can find the adherents to the treaty on the State Dept website.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:54 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 97

as she should be

BevW January 7th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

David, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and ending war.

Scott, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

David’s website and books

Scott’s website – Harper’s Magazine

Thanks all, Have a great weekend.

Sunday –
Jay Feldman – Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America

If you want to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 102

I think the real awakening for those outside of these blog pages came when Manning shared the Collateral Murder video. Any simple minded person could see that had nothing to do with Osama binForgotten and his merry band of marauders.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to Scott Horton @ 99

a bit from the book:

We might begin by remembering what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is and where it came from. Perhaps, in between celebrating Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and the Iraq-Afghanistan Wars Day legislated by Congress in 2011, not to mention the militaristic festival that bombards us every September 11th, we could squeeze in a day marking a step toward peace. I propose we do so every August 27th. Perhaps a national focus for Kellogg-Briand Day might be on an event in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., (if it safely reopens following the recent earthquake) where the inscription below the Kellogg Window gives Kellogg, who is buried there, credit for having “sought equity and peace among the nations of the world.” Other days could be developed into peace celebrations as well, including the International Day of Peace on September 21st, Martin Luther King Jr. Day every third Monday in January, and Mothers Day on the second Sunday in May.

We would be celebrating a step toward peace, not its achievement. We celebrate steps taken toward establishing civil rights, despite that remaining a work in progress. By marking partial achievements we help build the momentum that will achieve more. We also, of course, respect and celebrate the ancient establishment of laws banning murder and theft, although murder and theft are still with us. The earliest laws making war into a crime, something it had not been before, are just as significant and will long be remembered if the movement for the Outlawry of war succeeds. If it does not, and if the nuclear proliferation, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation that come with our wars continue, then before long there may be nobody remembering anything at all.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 100

Got Lebensraum?

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 102

…that the iran war lies are so similar.

And delivered by the very same Liars…! *gah*

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:57 pm


Thanks again for being here. I’ll send the word out about the book. Keep coming back and posting for us at FDL.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 3:58 pm
In response to BevW @ 105

That next one looks very interesting. Thanks as always for one of the best, most independent and principled, and stimulating websites there is.

PeasantParty January 7th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 108

Ask Palistine. They can tell ya all about it! ;-)

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Mahalo Nui Loa to David and Scott for the great Book Salon and all you both do…!

Mahalo, Bev and FDL too…! *g*

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 4:01 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 106

One would think. But never underestimate the power to not see even what’s in front of the eyes. This is why it helps us to check out radically different worldviews from other times and places. The 1920s in our own country is just near enough to also shock people with how radically different things were. Imagine getting the National League of Women Voters, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the National Association of Parents and Teachers, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and the American Legion to back outlawing all war even thought it’s already been done. They backed it early in the campaign in the 20s.

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 4:02 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 110

will do!

David Swanson January 7th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Thanks to Scott and Bev and Jane and Kevin and everybody at FDL!

CTuttle January 7th, 2012 at 4:05 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 111

Please chime in then, David…! I’m sure you’d ask some awesome questions…! ;-)

mzchief January 7th, 2012 at 4:19 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 46

Thank you David, Scott and attendees for being here and for a lively discussion. W☮☻T! W☮⎈T!

TarheelDem January 7th, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Thanks David, Scott for a very interesting discussion and David for bringing this historical movement back to light.

Mauimom January 7th, 2012 at 5:14 pm
In response to David Swanson @ 76

Don’t forget the whole “honoring veterans” thing, that in my mind contributes to glorifying war. Not only at football games, soapy ads on tv and other athletic events, but now AIRLINES are saying “we ‘honor’ those who serve by allowing any military in uniform to board first.”

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post