The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war

January 13

PRESENTE! We remember Chuck Kaufman, grass roots organizer and cofounder of Alliance for Global Justice, talking about his life's work, confronting US imperialism, neoliberalism and oppression in Latin America.

The Alliance for Global Justice

How much power does Nicaragua, a small country in Central America, really have? And why does the full force of the US Empire continually try to frustrate the will of the Nicaraguan people?

I think the answer requires a new look at US foreign policy. The empire demands that all resources in the Third World be open to commercial exploitation. Countries that try to divert profits to benefit their own people always run into trouble.

So the history of the Nicaraguan revolution shows us what our corporate controlled foreign policy really is: the crushing of any truly democratic reform in countries under US domination. Thus our approach to the world is singularly anti-democratic, despite the fact that almost all our military invasions and occupations of other countries is done in the name of protecting democratic rights. Yes, our foreign policy is exactly opposite to what our leaders say it is. 

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. -George Orwell
Nicaragua is a danger to the empire in that it presents a mirror to its failings. People like Chuck Kaufman are unafraid to hold up that mirror so that all of us can see. Let us remember the heroes of this age who dedicated their lives to the truth. The rest of us are sometime revolutionaries, but we can recognize their great courage. Presente! You will always be with us.

The New Cold War and speciocide


January 6

GUEST: Ted Snider, an analyst of U.S. foreign policy, columnist at, and frequent contributor to Truthout and Mondoweiss, talks about the dangers and lies of America's New Cold War.

Ted Snider on Mondoweiss

This is a cartoon from an Indian newspaper. The diminutive tiger represents another nuclear power hopefully staying out of way of the impending confrontation. 

We all hope to stay out of the way. But in this smaller world, one nuclear exchange will end up threatening everyone. There is no country or people who will be immune. Yes, we will all learn the meaning the word, speciocide

Like global warming, most people try to avoid the worst that could happen until it rips the roof off their house. The leaders of this decade are just gamblers, unwilling to sacrifice their careers to tell the truth. And we have seen a measurable decline in state responsibility since the 1980s. Bribes are now legal, and the rich and their corporations have been very successful in buying up anyone who runs for office. Both parties now belong to the very rich, who dream of spaceships to help them escape the doom that we all see coming. 

We survived one Cold War, and perhaps we will be very lucky again. Analysts like Ted Snider ask us to take another look. Must we all be passive until its over? Must we accept what the pro-war media feeds us every day? Must our political discourse be one set of lies against another? Or is speciocide the evolutionary price we will all pay for failing to adapt?

Farewell to the facade of democracy


December 30

GUEST: Matthew Hoh, US Marine veteran with two deployments to Iraq, former Department of Defense and State Department war analyst, and contributing writer for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, talks about the US military empire and why it remains addicted to war.

Nearly 3/4 of the world’s dictators receive US weapons

Matthew Hoh has seen it all first hand, with two war tours and then various analyst jobs in the Department of Defense. And he tells it like it is. War is our most important product.

Perhaps we can trace this back to the end of World War II, when our country eagerly ramped up its military capabilities rather than scaling them down because there was no country left to fight. 

The invasion of Korea was a part of the new war culture. We weren't content to have a unified Korea if it wasn't under our military influence. We killed two to three million Koreans but only achieved a military stalemate. Vietnam was next. We didn't belong there any more than we belonged in Korea. But we bombed and slaughtered them too. All the Vietnamese were seeking was freedom from being occupied. The US killed two to three million Vietnamese before our armies were finally driven out.

Perhaps militarism is a disease that counties get when they are too powerful. Other empires have behaved in a remarkably similar way. England ruled the world for over two centuries by invading and brutally exploiting foreign peoples. Other empires like Rome and Athens have acted remarkably the same. First came the military dominance, and then the great wealth extracted from occupied countries. Somewhere in the process, their democracies collapsed, replaced by a brutal and very unequal society. 

Too simple? Probably. But making the comparisons help us understand the endless wars the American Empire will pursue in the twenty first century. The downfall of our democracy is even now something that we as citizens are becoming acutely aware of. January 6 was a close call, and if it weren't for Trump's failure to adequately prepare for the coup, he would still be ruling.

Is it the fault of the two major parties? I think the last two Democratic presidents have been as guilty as the Republicans. Clinton and Obama were warmonger presidents, eager to push China and Russia into military confrontations. There is no peace party, despite what Democrats claim. If that is what the party runs on next time, it will be time to bid farewell to the facade of democracy that we have all grown up believing. 

Peace in the New Year


December 23

Voices for peace in the Holy Land, a compilation of discussions and music for the holidays. Hear the views of Noam Chomsky, Yonatan Shapira and others.

During the holidays, stories about our common humanity are particularly appealing. Sometimes soldiers don't fight during war. They come out of their trenches for a very brief time to exchange gifts and play soccer. There is sometimes this unmet need to recognize that we are all sisters and brothers. An urge to embrace one another rather than to kill. 

Perhaps our common bonds will save us in the end. And if we destroy our species through global warming or nuclear Armageddon, then at least we tried. 

Work for peace in the New Year.

Empire and the search for truth

December 16

GUEST: Dr. Harry Targ, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, and a co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, talks about how Koch funded neoliberalism is becoming hegemonic in higher education.

Heartland Radical

Neoliberalism is the concept that everyone has learned to hate. Perhaps we should call it hyper capitalism, the pursuit of profit by impoverishing whole populations, both in the Third World and in the heart of the empire. Conquering education is the next goal in this march to enrich the few in the name of democracy. The current ferocious war to eliminate any notion of the public good is particularly aimed at the nation's colleges and universities. 

Historically, colleges were centers of debate and learning. Students would gather around thinkers like Noam Chomsky to understand and take part in mutual quest for knowledge. The quest was a group effort, a learned pursuit to satisfy one's intellectual curiosity.

How we got to the current university systems, expensive country clubs that all but a few of our richest students will spend their lives paying off loans for, would make an interesting study. Our most prestigious institutions of higher education are bastions of privilege. At Harvard, 40% of students accepted would not have gotten in if it weren't for parental donations, talent in sports, or some other non academic skill. The Ivy League schools have always reeked of family money. 

So maybe it wasn't that hard for the Kochs to warp the educational system further with their filthy billions. Once the very rich start paying for professors, buildings and academic programs all the supposed intellectual basis for gaining knowledge falls by the wayside. Higher education was ripe for further corruption before the Kochs arrived. 

I noticed that Harry and I talked a good deal about the US Empire, and its endless wars. Can a nation have true intellectual freedom when it commits a growing list of war crimes abroad? Quite possibly, the military empire we are all part of spells the end of a university system based on the search for knowledge and truth. 


If you love your Uncle Sam

December 9

GUEST: Brian Robinson, criminal justice reform activist, CEO of Equitable Future Inc, and member of the End the New Jim Crow Action Network (ENJAN), discusses decarceration on the local and state levels.

Coalition takes on mass incarceration

There are all the logical reasons why a society like ours should put fewer people in jail. Our incarceration rate is off the charts when it come to the rest of the world. Over half of those in prison do not present a danger to our society. They may need help ending an addiction or remediating the effects of a mental illness. Prison is just a very expensive waste of taxpayer dollars.

Looked at through another lens, however, our prison system is much worse. A disproportionate number of our prisoners are poor and people of color. Imprisonment is therefore a product of racism and class devision. In a way, our prison system reflects what we as a nation do with our soldiers abroad. Incarceration is the necessary ally of empire. 

But once enough people start to realize the changes that must be made, eager politicians pull out the race card. Suddenly crime is again a problem of the poor rather than a problem of the rich. And Blacks, being the bottom caste of our social system, must pay the worst price. Will young, Black men ever stop ending up in jail? 

There is no justice in empire. Nor was there very much justice during slavery or during Jim Crow. There was no justice to the native peoples who were driven from their land and slaughtered. These United States created a nation on a different model. And our legacy continues as the millions killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the innocent victims who were tortured for 20 years in Guantanamo. 

"If you love your Uncle Sam, bring them home." - Pete Seeger

Being honest about what is going on around them

December 2

GUEST: Phillip Pantuso, award-winning journalist, editor of the new weekly magazine, The River, and contributing writer for The GuardianThe New York Times, and Yes! Magazine, talks about publishing local news and articles that break the conservative mold.

Phillip Pantuso

It was interesting to hear the problems of local journalists first hand. Here in the Hudson Valley, we have watched the major papers become thin and brittle versions of their former selves. It is like reading parchment paper, and I feel sorry for all the reporters who no longer ply their trade in empty newsrooms. 

But to tell the truth, local news has always been lame. There was never very much national or international new, and the stores they carried had always been screened by many sieves before they hit the light of day. The recent consolidation of radio, TV stations, newspapers, and magazines, just means that all their stories are vacuous in the same way. Now most articles have become full length advertisements for local businesses.

Just like real history is too interesting to appear in classroom textbooks, real political or personal drama rarely breaks to the surface in local publications. That's why I am hopeful about some new magazines like The River. They carry some stories about racism, police violence, poverty, and social justice. By being honest about what is going on around them, they capture our attention. How do they dare write about this stuff? Will the publication be sustainable if it doesn't trumpet the capitalist class? 

We will see, and the suspense will keep us reading The River.