David Swanson supports the US football team in the World Cup, but that doesn't mean he shouts "We won!" when a US war destroys a nation in the name of 'freedom'.
I've been cheering during US World Cup games. But I cheer for neighborhood, city, and regional teams too. And I don't talk about the teams as if I'm them. I don't say "We scored!" as I sit in a chair opening a beer.
And I don't say "We won!" when the US military destroys a nation, kills huge numbers of people, poisons the earth, water, and air, creates new enemies, wastes trillions of dollars, and passes its old weapons to the local police who restrict our rights in the name of wars fought in the name of freedom.
I don't say "We lost!" either. We who resist have a responsibility to resist harder, but not to identify with the killers, and certainly not to imagine that the men, women, children, and infants being murdered by the hundreds of thousands constitute an opposing team wearing a different uniform, a team whose defeat by hellfire missile I should cheer for.
In the US there are US flags everywhere all the time now, and there's a military holiday for every day of the year. But the Fourth of July is the highest holiday of holy nationalism. More than any other day, you're likely to see children being taught to pledge allegiance to a flag, regurgitating a psalm to obedience like little fascist robots. You're more likely to hear the US national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. Who knows which war the words of that song come from?
There are many wonderful and rapidly improving elements in US culture.
It has become widely and increasingly unacceptable to be bigoted or prejudiced against people, at least nearby people, because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, and other factors. It still goes on, of course, but it's frowned upon.
I had a conversation last year with a man sitting in the shadow of a carving of confederate generals on a spot that used to be sacred to the Ku Klux Klan, and I realized that he would never, even if he thought it, say something racist about blacks in the United States to a stranger he'd just met. And then he told me he'd like to see the entire Middle East wiped out with nuclear bombs.
We've had comedians' and columnists' careers ended over racist or sexist remarks, but CEOs of arms manufacturers joke on the radio about wanting big new occupations of certain countries, and nobody blinks.
We have so-called progressive politicians who describe the military as a jobs program, even though it actually produces fewer jobs per dollar than education or energy or infrastructure or never taxing those dollars at all.
We have peace groups that argue against wars on the grounds that the military needs to be kept ready for other, possibly more important wars. We have peace groups that oppose military waste, when the alternative of military efficiency is not what's needed.
We have libertarians who oppose wars because they cost money, exactly as they oppose schools or parks.
We have humanitarian warriors who argue for wars because of their compassion for the people they want bombed. We have peace groups that side with the libertarians and urge selfishness, arguing for schools at home instead of bombs for Syrians, without explaining that we could give actual aid to Syrians and ourselves for a fraction of the cost of the bombs.
We have liberal lawyers who say they can't tell whether blowing children up with drones is legal or not, because President Obama has a secret memo (now only partially secret) in which he legalizes it by making it part of a war.
We have people arguing that bombing Iraq is now a good thing because it finally gets the US and Iran talking to each other. We have steadfast refusals to mention a half-million to a million-and-a-half Iraqis based on the belief that Americans can only possibly care about 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq.
And yet, we also have tremendous progress. A hundred years ago Americans were listening to snappy tunes about how hunting Huns was a fun game to play, and professors were teaching that war builds national character.
Now war has to be sold as necessary and humanitarian because nobody believes it's fun or good for you anymore. Polls in the United States put support for possible new wars below 20 percent and sometimes below 10 percent.
After Britain's House of Commons said No to missile strikes on Syria, the US Congress listened to an enormous public uproar in the US and said No as well.
In February, public pressure led to Congress backing off a new sanctions bill on Iran that became widely understood as a step toward war rather than away from it.
A new war on Iraq is having to be sold and developed slowly in the face of huge public resistance that has even resulted in some prominent advocates of war in 2003 recently recanting.
This shift in the US public's attitude toward wars is largely the result of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and the exposure of the lies and horrors involved. We shouldn't underestimate this trend or imagine that it's unique to the question of Syria or Ukraine. People are turning against war.
For some it may be all about the money. For others it may be a question of which political party owns the White House. The Washington Post has a poll showing that almost nobody in the US can find Ukraine on a map, and those who place it furthest from where it really lies are most likely to want a US war there, including those who place it in the United States. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Yet the larger trend is this: from geniuses right down to morons, we are, most of us, turning against war. The Americans who want Ukraine attacked are fewer than those believing in ghosts, U.F.O.s, or the benefits of climate change.
Now, the question is whether we can shake off the idea that after hundreds of bad wars there just might be a good one around the corner. To do that we have to recognize that wars and militaries make us less safe, not safer. We have to understand that Iraqis aren't ungrateful because they're stupid but because the US and allies destroyed their home.
War is our worst destroyer of the natural environment, the worst generator of human rights abuses, a leading cause of death and creator of refugee crises. It swallows some $2 trillion a year globally, while tens of billions could alleviate incredible suffering, and hundreds of billions could pay for a massive shift to renewable energies that might help protect us from an actual danger.
What we need now is a movement of education and lobbying and nonviolent resistance that doesn't try to civilize war but to take steps in the direction of abolishing it -- which begins by realizing that we can abolish it.
This is an edited version of David Swanson's speech on 4 July 2014 at the Independence from America event outside Menwith Hill RAF base in Yorkshire, UK, which is organised annually by the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. The full version of the speech can be read at warisacrime.org. David Swanson is one of the founders of WorldBeyondWar.org, a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.