By Gary Black, NewsMiner
FAIRBANKS — Noble Peace Prize nominee, author and activist David Swanson is speaking in Fairbanks this weekend, where he will talk about efforts to end war across the globe.
Swanson is the author of “War is a Lie” and “When the World Outlawed War,” as well as the director of WorldBeyondWar.org and a campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. He’s making his first visit to Alaska for the lecture and was invited to speak by the Alaska Peace Center and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Peace Club.
As a peace activist, Swanson will speak on how war is sold to the world as a viable option and what we can do to stymie it.
“‘War is a Lie’ was written as sort of a guide to help people spot lies about war,” Swanson said by phone this week from his home in Virginia. “A lot of what we have to catch on to the selling of wars is out there. We don’t need a Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden or congressional hearings,” he said, referencing Manning and Snowden as whistle blowers who leaked government documents.
While Swanson is adamant about promoting peace, he’s also not afraid of a good challenge. As his talk is open to the public, he openly invites those who disagree with his views to attend and engage in a hearty debate.
“All are invited, even those who disagree, and I’m always up for a civil discussion,” he said. “There is a value in speaking to peace advocates, but I like the discussion. People in Alaska who think war is necessary should show up, and we’ll have that discussion.”
The current political climate is something he might touch on as well, but he takes no side when it comes to his advocacy.
“In the United States, we have the most militarized society ever,” he said. “The U.S. Department of Defense spends about a trillion dollars each year for preparations for war, and with that, we could end starvation or lack of drinking water. With tens of thousands of dollars, we could change the United States or the world, yet it’s completely accepted by both parties and never questioned. Military spending is more than half of what Congress OKs, and never has the media asked in debates how much we should spend or should it go up or down.”
Eventually, he said, he wants to see a cultural shift and a breakthrough in the notion that war is inevitable or natural and that there is nothing that can be done about it.
“It’s something you see hear a lot more in the United States than in other countries,” Swanson said. “Peace is the norm, not war, and in the U.S., 99 percent of us have nothing to do with it. It’s the people who go to war who suffer.”
If You Go
What: David Swanson lecture
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Schaible Auditorium, University of Alaska Fairbanks campus
Cost: Free to attend and open to the public