David Swanson is driven—some might say obsessed. What an obsession to have—an obsession to end war! One has to wonder where he finds the time to be a good father and husband (a question you might ask him) given his non-stop writing, speaking, organizing, scheming, and mobilizing.
He is one of the most prolific writers I’ve ever met. He writes faster than most people can talk. He writes books, articles, letters, manifestos, draft legislation, action alerts. Ask David if he thinks it would be a good idea to write a sign-on letter about why the US should stay out of the Syrian war, and he sends you a well-reasoned, well-written, articulate document before you can finish spitting out the idea.
He also has a knack of writing as if he were speaking to you at the kitchen table. In No More War you can picture him trying to convince a skeptical neighbor that war can truly be ended. What initially sounds like a crazy idea becomes more and more rational as David whittles away at each argument his detractors make. War has always been with us—it’s human nature; you need war to take out the next Hitler; even if you wanted to end war you can’t fight the massive military-industrial complex; as resources become scarcer, more wars are inevitable. He takes the arguments on one at a time—pulling apart each excuse for war with historical comparisons and rhetorical flourishes.
David goes through a litany of social ills related to violence that have been, for the most part, overcome: slavery, blood feuds, the death penalty, and torture. Yes, he knows that there are still instances of all of these around the world, but removing the legitimacy and state support for institutions such as slavery has made a huge difference and the same would go for war, David argues.
A “good war” must sound to all of us, says David, as no more possible than a benevolent rape or philanthropic slavery or virtuous child abuse.
On the positive side, David shows that by liberating the massive resources now spent on war or preparing for war, we could have a world with many things we want but are told we can’t afford: good education, a clean environment, affordable housing, universal healthcare, a dignified retirement.
I love David’s call for “de-glorifying” the military as part of dismantling the culture of war. “We must hold up resisters, conscientious objectors, peace advocates, diplomats, whistleblowers, journalists, and activists as our heroes,” he says. “We must thank them for their service. We must honor them. We must cease honoring those who participate in war or war industries.” Amen.
David thinks outside the box. He thinks big, he thinks bold. He is not just trying to convince readers, but to change history. He wants to build a mass movement to end war as an institution. He deserves a wide hearing, and a devoted following.
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