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Only in America? The False Dichotomy Between Movement Building and Electoral Politics


  • Any grown-up left asks not whether to participate in elections, but how.
  • Us vs Them: When Politics is Treated Like a Football Game, No One Wins

Tom Gallagher, Common Dreams

bernie_sanders_0.jpg?itok=yM-Bx7U3The mark of a genuine "movement," writes Gallagher, is that it tries to move people into action and interacts with every other positive strain of activism, no matter its origins. (Photo: AP)  

Thursday, May 21, 2015 | Most people we might think of as being on the American left don’t generally embrace the idea of “American exceptionalism.” There is one apparent exception to this unexceptional point of view, however, at least in some corners of the American left. That is the notion that in the U.S. – unlike any other country with a reasonably democratic system – electoral politics are somehow only an optional part of a serious political movement. The latest expression of this “only in America” point of view comes in response to Senator Bernie Sanders’s declaration of his intention to run in next year’s Democratic Party presidential primaries.

The objections to his candidacy come in at least two variants – “not now” and “never.” The “never” perspective is articulated by David Swanson in his CounterPunch article, “Invest in Activism, Not Bernie Sanders.” It’s not that Swanson doesn’t like Sanders. On the contrary, although he allows that he has some disagreements with him – which he characterizes as “imperfections” on Sanders’s part – Swanson considers “the contrast with Clinton ... like day to night.” Nevertheless, he pleads, “please do not give him or Hillary or the wonderful Jill Stein or any other candidate a dime or a moment of your life. Instead, join the movement,” referring to people seeking justice on the streets of Baltimore, trying to abolish nuclear weapons in the halls of the United Nations, and doing any number of other valuable things.

In years past, Tom Gallagher has served as a surrogate speaker for presidential candidates George McGovern, Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich. A past member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, he is the author of "Sub: My Years Underground in America's Schools."  

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Us vs Them: When Politics is Treated Like a Football Game, No One Wins, Alex Gauthier, The Independent Voter Network 

  • When Only Partisan Voters Vote, Only Partisan Candidates Are Elected
  • The Liberal Apologies for Obama’s Ugly Reign

America’s Virulent, Extremist Counterterrorism Ideology


  • Forget the long war; we’re now in the thick of perpetual war.
  • Special Project | US Wars and Covert Actions Around the World: Week Ending  April 25, 2015

Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Coleen Rowley.

assets/20229527c1c240439ddbc81bf821d95e.jpgIf you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

2015/05/security.jpgMay 21, 2015 | Throughout the 13-plus years of the war on terrorism, one line of effort that everyone in Washington agrees on is the necessity to counter the ideology put forth by terrorist groups. Unfortunately, everyone also agrees that U.S. government agencies have done a terrible job at achieving this. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) recently derided the State Department’s counter-ideology efforts as “laughable” compared with the propaganda of the Islamic State. Whether termed “strategic communications,” “counter-messaging,” or “countering violent extremism,” there is a rare Washington consensus that this essential task is also the one that the United States has been the worst at accomplishing. But it’s not just about building a less-pathetic State Department Twitter feed. By extension, “success” mandates changing how terrorist groups think and communicate, and influencing individuals deemed susceptible to terrorists’ messaging.

Focusing on terrorists’ ideology is attractive because it requires altering the brains of enemies and neutral third parties, while, more importantly, requiring no change in America’s own thinking. Yet in the past six months there has been a little noticed, but significant, shift in America’s own counterterrorism ideology.

Micah Zenko (@MicahZenko) is the Douglas Dillon fellow with the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. He writes the blog Politics, Power, and Preventive Action.

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Special Project | US Wars and Covert Actions Around the World: Week Ending  April 25, 2015, Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest


(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

  • For decades beginning during the Cold War, US policy in the Islamic world has been aimed at suppressing secular reformist and leftist movements. Beginning with the CIA-engineered coup against a secular democratic reform government in Iran in 1953 (it was about oil), Washington has propped up dictators, coaching these regimes in the black arts of torture and mayhem against secular liberals and the left. 
  • 8 New Items including:
    • The US Carried Out 674 Military Operations in Africa Last Year. Did You Hear About Any of Them?
    • Special Report | Iraq Redux: Week Ending April 18, 2015
    • U.S. military intervenes in Latin America, Marines going to Honduras
    • Tomgram | Christian Appy: "Honor" the Vietnam Veteran, Forget the War
    • America's 30-year Cold War with Iran: Manufacturing A Good Adversary
    • TomGram | William Hartung: Your Money at War Everywhere
    • Defense Industry Whores
    • The Big Dick School of American Patriotism

Book review: ‘Thank You for Your Service’ by David Finkel


Finkel, a reporter with the Washington Post, attends to what he calls the “after war.” His concern is with the soldiers who return from the war zone bearing wounds — and with the loved ones on whom those wounds also become imprinted. Above all, he is concerned with wounds that may not be fully visible: the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and related conditions that affect roughly a half-million younger veterans. Make that a half-million and counting.

Andrew Bacevich, Washington (DC) Post

I%20Want%20You.jpg If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

/thankyouforyourservice.JPG?uuid=rZVYUiY-EeOtDbfI0qWUuQSeptember 27, 2013 | Nominally a sequel to “The Good Soldiers,” his 2009 account of an American infantry battalion at war in Iraq, David Finkel’s new book actually serves as a perfect companion to George Packer’s recent bestseller, “The Unwinding.” Like Packer, Finkel examines the human detritus left in the wake of fraudulent promises and collapsed illusions. In “The Unwinding,” Packer contemplates the fate of those victimized by cataclysmic economic change. In “Thank You for Your Service,” Finkel looks at those victimized by egregious military malpractice.

The post-industrial, high-tech, information-age economy unveiled near the end of the 20th century supposedly offered a template for permanent prosperity. The Great Recession upended such expectations. Although some Americans have gotten very rich indeed, far larger numbers of ordinary citizens find themselves unemployed and unemployable. With impressive sensitivity, Packer tells their story.

Andrew J. Bacevich teaches at Boston University. His new book is “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.”

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An Open Letter To The Troops: You're Not Defending Our Freedoms

  • Every U.S. soldier who dies in Iraq and Afghanistan dies for nothing, which was the same thing that some 58,000 men of my generation died for in Vietnam.
  • General Smedley Butler: War Is a Racket
  • Disabled Veterans Shatter the Myths of American Warfare

Jacob G. Hornberger, The Future of Freedom Foundation

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Young%20Woman%20Lying%20Prostate%20at%20a%20Vet%27s%20Grave.jpgMay 31, 2011 | Dear Troops:

Yesterday — Memorial Day — some people asserted, once again, that you are “defending our freedoms” overseas.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Those people are just repeating tired old mantras. The reality is that you are not defending our freedoms with your actions overseas. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Your actions overseas are placing our freedoms here at home in ever-greater jeopardy.

Jacob G. Hornberger: President, The Future of Freedom Foundation

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smedleybutlerphoto.bmp War Is a Racket is the title of two works, a speech and a booklet, by retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two time Medal of Honor recipient Smedley D. Butler. In them, Butler frankly discusses from his experience as a career military officer how business interests commercially benefit from warfare. After his retirement from the Marine Corps, Gen. Butler made a nationwide tour in the early 1930s giving his speech "War is a Racket". The speech was so well received that he wrote a longer version as a small book with the same title that was published in 1935 by Round Table Press, Inc., of New York. The booklet was also condensed in Reader's Digest as a book supplement which helped popularize his message. In an introduction to the Reader's Digest version, Lowell Thomas, the "as told to" author of Butler's oral autobiographical adventures, praised Butler's "moral as well as physical courage."


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Disabled Veterans Shatter the Myths of American Warfare, Ann Jones, The Intercept

  • The military ambitions of the U.S. will not be restrained by the “true costs of war,” not even those exacted on the bodies of its soldiers.
  • A Trail of Tears

Memorial Day: Pick Your Perversion


  • VFP%20logo.jpgOn this Memorial Day, Veterans For Peace asks you to mourn not only for Americans killed in battle, but also for those killed by Americans in battle. We ask you to be willing to accept the fact that these war deaths did not have to happen—that they are actually in vain. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died in American wars of aggression. That is a tragedy and is a truth that must be accepted and for which we must take responsibility.
  • War Crimes and Forgetting
  • Disabled Veterans Shatter the Myths of American Warfare

Leah Bolger, Veterans for Peace

emetary-IRAQ-war-images-11121612-514x268-300x156.jpgMay 25, 2012 | Memorial Day, originally known as “Decoration Day,” was created in the aftermath of the Civil War as a day to honor the memory and sacrifice of Union soldiers who had died in battle. It later broadened to include the theme of reconciliation, honoring Confederate soldiers as well; and through the years has become a day to remember all U.S. military personnel who have died in combat. Increasingly, it evolved from simply decorating the graves and solemn memorialization of those killed, to opportunities for flag-waving, nationalistic displays with parades, marching bands and political speeches. Today, it has become a perversion of its original intent in two ways.

Perversion #1—Commercialism/Consumerism/Entertainment

Perversion #2—American Exceptionalism

Leah Bolger spent 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2000 at the rank of Commander. She is currently a full-time peace activist and serves as the National President of Veterans For Peace. 

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Veterans%27%20concerns%20%26%20stories.jpgWar Crimes and Forgetting, Pete Dolack, National Veterans for Peace / CounterPunch

  • The “debate” surrounding the war is a textbook example of corporate media obfuscation.
  • No Mercy in Neighboring Countries
  • The Long Reach of Vietnam War Deceptions


Disabled Veterans Shatter the Myths of American Warfare, Ann Jones, The Intercept

  • The military ambitions of the U.S. will not be restrained by the “true costs of war,” not even those exacted on the bodies of its soldiers.
  • A Trail of Tears


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