I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny. In the commentary, I make reference to a chicken, which my crew and I encountered while on patrol with American soldiers in Vietnam.
Daniel Ellsberg’s new book is The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. I’ve known the author for years, I’m prouder than ever to say. We have done speaking events and media interviews together. We’ve been arrested together protesting wars. We’ve publicly debated electoral politics. We’ve privately debated the justness of World War II. (Dan approves of U.S. entry into World War II, and it seems into the war on Korea as well, though he has nothing but condemnation for the bombing of civilians that made up so much of what the U.S. did in those wars.) I’ve valued his opinion and he has rather inexplicably asked for mine on all sorts of questions. But this book has just taught me a great deal I had not known about Daniel Ellsberg and about the world.
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” — Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket, Round Table Press (1935)
On Tuesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on whether Trump can just up and nuke people or not. The hand-picked witnesses, all former military, all said there was some chance that if Trump ordered a nuking, somebody might refuse to carry out the order. On what grounds? No witness or Senator ever mentioned the illegality of war under the UN Charter or the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But one witness brought up “necessity” and “proportionality” as grounds for deeming a particular apocalypse-creating act illegal and another legal. But these “just war” concepts are not empirical. There’s no standard for determining whether an action is “necessary” or “proportional.” It comes down to the mood the commander of Strategic Command is in that day, or the partisan identity of some official, or the courage and integrity of rank-and-filers ordered to begin the earth’s destruction. If, like me, you’re not convinced that’s good enough, here are some other possible approaches:
Me Too is producing some results. At long last. Victims of sexual assault by men in superior positions of power are speaking out. Big time figures in the entertainment, media, sports and political realms are losing their positions – resigning or being told to leave. A producer at 60 Minutes thinks Wall Street may be next.
“One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.” — Mike Hastie, Former U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71
An American political commentator denounced the US government as the world’s biggest terrorist organization, saying such an empire would never honor treaties or deals because upholding an agreement means the US is not really an empire.