The Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein. Eight years later, the Pentagon estimates the cost of the war at roughly $700 billion and counting. The long-term cost is estimated at more than $4 trillion. Click here to learn more.
US MILITARY spends more on war than all 50 state budgets combined! Sherwood Ross | The Intelligence Daily | 12.26.2009 - Pentagon now spending more for war than all 50 States combined spend to run the country. The U.S. spends more for war annually than all state governments combined spend for the health, education, welfare, and safety of 308 million Americans. Read more...
(UPI) 1/8/2006 Experts Say Iraq War Will Cost $1 Trillion: A new study by a Nobel Prize-winning economist and a budget expert puts the total cost of the Iraq War at $1 trillion to $2 trillion. The study includes the cost of disability payments and health care for the over 16,000 injured military personnel -- one-fifth of whom have serious brain or spinal injuries. Stiglitz and Bilmes also analyzed the costs to the economy, including the economic value of lives lost and higher oil prices.
....And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Matthew Arnold, 1867
Not a pleasant topic is it? And I apologize for bringing you face to face with it. War has been the plague of Mankind (and Woman) since we evolved from the slime of the ocean vents into creatures who walked erect, on two legs and developed enough cranial content to be called intelligent! Intelligent? Maybe Arnold had it right....ignorance would be perhaps more apt. Oh, it takes intelligence to fight a modern battle, lots of know-how to deal with high technology and "smart" bombs and global positioning systems and all that goes into it but isn't there a certain degree of no-mindedness too? What does it take to bomb a target from 30,000 feet on a run where the target is unseen, faceless and might I say, abstract. How much love and caring is required to accomplish such a stunt? And who may be the target? Does the bombardier know or even care? Isn't that what happened in Afghanistan when a wedding party was virtually dissolved by "accident" not too long ago? We are constantly reminded by "those in charge" that great care is taken not to harm innocent non-combatants but we know that has not been true as long as Man has taken up the weapons to kill whomever he could. For that is the purpose of WAR : it's objective is to kill, the reality of war is death!
This paper is about the killing of non-combatants and it begins in China in the 1930s. The Second World War had its inception in 1931 when Japan made war on it's neighbor. It was called the Sino-Japan war and it saw the Nipponese invade Manchuria and establish a government. The Japanese had a war-like attitude based on their tradition of the Samurai culture called bushido . It was an ancient system going back a thousand years or more and it developed a social hierarchy based on martial competition. This more than anything would explain their warlike behavior.
base in Manchuria was insufficent for this bellicose gang and they
moved south in 1937 to the capital city of Nanking. There began a horrific,
beast-like series of events in which 300,000 people were systematically
slaughtered and 20,000 women ravished for the pleasure of the Japanese
troops. Pleasure! It was anger and hatred that caused this human tragedy.
Iris Chang has described this horror in her excellent book, The Rape
of Nanking. (1998) Let me give you an example of one of her descriptions:
Old age was no concern to the Japanese. Matrons, grandmothers and great-grandmothers endured repeated sexual assaults. A Japanese soldier who raped a woman of sixty was ordered to "clean the penis by her mouth." When a woman of sixty-two protested to soldiers that she was too old for sex, "they rammed a stick up her instead." Many women in their eighties were raped to death and at least one woman in that age group was shot and killed because she refused a soldier's advances. P. 91 ( 1 )
of how young girls were treated is even more brutal but I will spare
you the details. The men of the city were taken to particular sites
along the Yangtze River and methodically machine-gunned to death, used
for bayonet practice or doused with gasoline and burned alive. Chang
provides photographs as evidence that these things happened. As distressing
as it is I would recommend this excellent book because it reports an
historical fact that most Americans are unaware of.
World War II began in earnest in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland and the conflict rapidly flared into an all-out war with the Axis of Germany, Italy and Japan opposing the Allies of Britain, France, Russia and after December 7, 1941, the United States. But this is not a history of that terrible struggle. Let me just say that it developed into the most destructive war in the history of the world both in terms of property and people. I don't like statistics anymore than you do but it's the best way to show you the extent to which innocent civilians, non-combatants were killed. So here are some figures for you to dwell on and it should be noted that these are only approximations since no one can give the precise data:
The best known is the murder of Jews under the German holocaust: Best estimate is 5 and ¾ million put to death over a period of seven years. What is not known by many is that Germany, in its quest for the purist race , also saw fit to exterminate the disabled, about 200,000 and from 3000 to 9000 homosexuals. These individuals were somehow seen as defective human beings and did not belong to a super race of people. They were non-combatants but were not killed through any military activity. In time of war sometimes ideologies run amok.
Among the Polish population an estimated 5 million civilians died as a result of military bombing and the destruction of the infrastructure. The latter refers to the amenities of life such as food, clean water and appropriate shelter. About 50% of them were Jews and were swept into death camps such as Auschwitz.
On the Allied side, the Russians were subjected to the siege of Leningrad in 1941. Siege is an old concept in the history of war. It usually involves surrounding and subjecting the population of a town or city to unspeakable deprivation. When the German (Nazi) army invaded the Soviet they completely encircled the city of Leningrad. The siege lasted for 900 days until 1944 and as a result there was no heating, no water supply, virtually no electricity and very little food . When the siege was finally broken an estimated 650 to 800 thousand had perished from cold and starvation. In the entire war nearly 7 million Russian noncombatants had died!
The horrendous bombing of London in 1940 by the Germans in the infamous Blitz killed a remarkably low figure of 13,000 but in all of Britain four million homes were damaged and 200,000 completely destroyed meaning that the number of homeless individuals was off the scale.
But, you intelligently ask, what was the extent of Allied damage to our enemies? In the bombing of central Tokyo in 1944, American bombers dropped in excess of 3500 tons of bombs killing more than a thousand citizens and during March of 1945 the "fire-bombing" of the same location resulted in the deaths of 130,000, a number confirmed by Japanese authorities. Several other populated sites including Osaka and Kobe from March to May in the same year were attacked from the air and resulted in wiping out more than a quarter of a million civilians.
Then there was the dreadful fire bombing of Dresden, Germany by British aircraft which left more than 39,000 registered dead and another 20,000 more burned beyond recognition. In the battle of Okinawa toward the end of the war 165,000 native islanders were victimized by both gunfire and bombs and finally in the coup de grace came the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in a final act of terror by the United States, a total of 180,000 died and countless others were permanently scarred by radiation burns!!
What is the meaning of all these numbers? It seems clear that the civilian population in any war is a prime target for attacking forces more important than any opposing armies or military targets although it will be argued by the generals that strategic installations are the primary points to be hit and isn't it too bad that civilians happen to be in the way!!!! This to me is specious reasoning and makes it abundantly clear that the human life is of less value than ever before. When millions of innocents can be sacrificed in the name of politics one has to ask what is the reason for this mass global psychosis?
In subsequent wars .oh,how many and how long will this insanity prevail .. the figures are similar. In Vietnam there were thousands upon thousands of innocents in the way of guns and dropped napalm. Who can forget the haunting picture of that young Vietnamese girl, running naked down the road with a look of terror on her young face .running from what and to what? The whole thing was senseless and without justification. Vietnam was an utterly pointless war in which we were defeated and justly so but the powers that be felt that the loss of 58,000 of our troops was worth the cost. And how many innocent civilians? We may never know the full impact.
But an additional note on the Vietnam conflict is in order. When the war seemed to be at an end in 1969 , peace negotiations were scheduled for a meeting in Paris. President Richard Nixon had just been elected and his National Security Adviser was Henry Kissinger. The North Vietnamese (Vietcong) had been coming to the South by way of Cambodia which adjoined Vietnam on the West and were setting up sanctuaries in that country. Let Christopher Hitchens pick up the story:
soon after the accession of Nixon and Kissinger to power, a program of heavy bombardment of the country (Cambodia) was prepared and executed in secret. (Emphasis added)
The raids were flown by B-52 bombers which, it is important to note at the
outset, fly at an altitude too high to be observed from the ground and carry immense tonnages of high explosive: they give no warning
of approach and are incapable of accuracy or discrimination . Between March 1969 and May 1970, 3,360 such raids were flown
across the Cambodian frontier. The bombing campaign began as it was to go on-with full knowledge of its effect on civilians.
As a result of the expanded and intensified bombing campaigns it has been estimated that as many as 350,000 civilians in Laos
and 650,000 in Cambodia lost their lives. (2)
Kissinger had excessive clout in the Nixon administration to the extent that although he was not only the National Security Advisor he also assumed the role of Secretary of State by proxy. As such his influence on world politics was more than it should have been. He (with Nixon's concurrence) advised the South Vietnamese government that they would get a better peace deal if they held off. Therefore, although the war could have ended in 1969 it was not officially ended until four years later. This extension of the Vietnam war is estimated to have resulted in an additional 20,000 American lives lost! (This is the same Kissinger who has been appointed co-chair of the 9/11 investigative group.)
The heavy and incessant bombing of the Cambodian countryside by the United States caused panic stricken peasants to flee to the urban areas such as the capital city of Phnom Penh. The resulting destabilization permitted a hitherto little known Communist militant by the name of Pol Pot to gain authority and establish himself as the kingpin of the country with support of his guerilla army known as the Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodians). His plan was to forcibly evacuate the cities of every member of the "old" society which included anyone with an education or wealth, police,doctors, Buddhist monks, lawyers and teachers. All were exported and turned into working slaves. This was the descent into what has come to be known as the Killing Fields and the result was the death of two million people ..all non-combatants. (You can rent the video.)
In 1991,a despot of the country of Iraq, the size of California, invaded the equally oil rich, adjacent nation of Kuwait, the size, shall we say, of Delaware. This action caused a flurry of activity in the powers of the globe particularly the United States. The desperation over our oil supplies being threatened caused President George Herbert Walker Bush, also known in later days as George the First, to get on the phone and mobilize a large coalition of countries who similarly felt a threat to their comfortable life-styles. Some 500,000 troops were, in a matter of a few weeks, en route and finally implanted on the ground. This number included the usual array of battleships, aircraft carriers and assorted machinery for the dispensing of all kinds of explosive devices with the aim in mind of killing people .well, that's what those infernal things are for. Aren't they? This was happily known as the Gulf War.
What followed is probably familiar to most Americans who have read beyond Dear Abby and the sports pages. The coalition's forces pushed the tyrant's men back into the deserts of Iraq whence they came just far enough to rid Kuwait of them but not all the way back to the capital city of Baghdad. Don't ask why, please. And it was probably noted that the despot who had initiated the ruckus, oh yes, his name was Saddam Hussein, after setting fire to all of Kuwait's oil rigs was once again firmly ensconced in one of his many palatial palaces. And Saddam was responsible for some citizen deaths,too managing to fire Scud missiles on Israel. No one is exempt.
But what most people are not familiar with is that, while the activities were underway in Kuwait , large scale bombing attacks (air strikes, if you please) were targeting the city of Baghdad. You know, the usual things such as electrical substations, telephone exchanges, water treatment plants, the disruption of the delivery of food, medicine and energy supplies and oh, incidentally, residential areas of the city and many, many citizens of the town who just happened to be in the way. These strikes went on for 34 days and raised holy havoc with the NON-COMBATANT population just trying to carry on with their lives. These non-military targets became known as "collateral damage," a euphemistic term concocted by the Pentagon to gloss over any possible feelings of guilt. The label referred to the "unintended" consequences of war which, as any schoolboy knows, will happen when the bombs rain down on the unsuspecting populace!
That's not all. The United Nations, in its infinite wisdom, prodded by the United States and Britain, passed a resolution imposing sanctions on the entire country of Iraq. These harsh and unconscionable measures have been in effect for the past eleven years and have wreaked untold hardship and death to thousands of Iraqi citizens! Since it is a desert country, water is a precious and valuable commodity both for drinking and cooking. The supply of this life necessity has been totally disrupted. Additionally, there is a scant supply needed for sewage disposal and treatment. Collateral damage!
former Attorney General in the Lyndon Johnson administration made the
following statement in 1997: I was there last week
..And the health condition is the worst it's been. Obviously, it builds on the past, and as your nutrition continues to be inadequate, the inherent physical strength of the people deteriorates. The sanctions have now killed over a million and a half people. The great majority are infants, children, elderly people, chronically ill people, people that every decent society strives hardest to protect. (Emphasis added) And they are killing people at the rate of about ten thousand a month
.and you cannot do that. It's genocide in the
specific terms of the Genocide Convention. www.aliasoft.com
Another horror story: Cluster bombs! These fiendish devices are dropped from planes and disintegrate in mid-air scattering "bomblets" the size of soda cans. The bomblets further explode and shoot out hundreds of high velocity shards of jagged steel shrapnel saturating a very wide area. They are yellow in color and descend very slowly so as to intentionally disperse and hit targets either military or civilian. They are purposefully designed to spray their contents which are pieces of molten steel that can slice through steel plates or human flesh indiscriminately. During the Gulf War it is estimated that 24 to 39 MILLION bomblets were dropped and in the neighborhood of one and a half million did not explode. The yellow color of the unexploded bomblets makes them attractive to children in whose hands they may detonate! (3)
Now just what is this talk about Weapons of Mass Destruction? And who has an arsenal replete with them? Guess who? To paraphrase the Big Bad Wolf's statement to Red Riding Hood ..the better to kill you with, my dear!!
The New York City twin Trade Towers were struck by two planes loaded to the brim with thousands of gallons of jet fuel on September 11, 2001. Some number under three thousand people were incinerated or killed by jumping to their deaths. These were also victims who classify as "collateral damage" As a subsequence of this horrible act we almost immediately went to war on the Al-Queda terrorists. We attacked the country of Afghanistan beginning in October and in conjunction with the Northern Alliance systematically routed the Taliban, former friends of the United States.
As a result of the war we bombed and strafed mountain caves and sleepy villages in an effort to kill Osama ben Laden. He was felt to have been responsible for the New York attack as well as the damage to the Pentagon building and a plane crash in Pennsylvania. He was wanted "dead or alive" according to George W. Bush, now President. We have never done either but we have managed to win over the Taliban and in the process have killed an estimated 3000 innocent civilians by "carpet" bombing. This figure is debated by some but Dr. Marc Herrold of the University of New Hampshire claims that his figures are valid. In a statement released on March of 2002 Herrold said, "What causes the documented high level of civilian casualties---3000-3400---civilian deaths in the U.S. air war upon Afghanistan ? The explanation is the apparent willingness of U.S. military strategists to fire missiles and to drop bombs upon heavily populated areas of Afghanistan" www.cursor.org
Are we as a society and a civilized culture so jaded that we can accept the continuation of these kinds of attacks? In this country we have NEVER felt the sting of damage or death to our own people until 9/11 ..NEVER, in World War I, World War II. Korea or Vietnam ..not to mention our ventures into Yugoslavia in the 1990s and our forays into Latin and South America .El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and what was that other place called? Oh yes, Grenada. We have not known what it is to have suffered the homeland killing of thousands of friends and relatives .until that fateful day. Following the New York incident a poll taken by the New York Times revealed that a shocking 58 per cent of Americans supported going to war, "even if it means many thousands of innocent civilians may be killed" Perhaps this was a momentary desire for revenge but still a majority of citizens seem now to be supportive of our going into Iraq. This would result in untold casualties of countless residents of that country who have been laboring not only under the thumb of Saddam but under the sanctions which were imposed in 1991.
of this needless slaughter. We can be patriotic in much more constructive
ways. An end to all collateral killing! An end to mass murder!
1. Chang, Iris The Rape of Nanking, New York: Penguin Books, 1997
2. Hitchens, Christopher The Trial of Henry Kissinger, New York: Verso Books, 2001
3. Blum, William Rogue State, Monroe, ME Common Courage Press, 2000
Published on Friday, December 7, 2001 in the Toronto Globe & Mail
On the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prize, 100 Nobel laureates warn that our security hangs on environmental and social reform. The most profound danger to world peace in the coming years will stem not from the irrational acts of states or individuals but from the legitimate demands of the world's dispossessed. Of these poor and disenfranchised, the majority live a marginal existence in equatorial climates. Global warming, not of their making but originating with the wealthy few, will affect their fragile ecologies most. Their situation will be desperate and manifestly unjust.
It cannot be expected, therefore, that in all cases they will be content to await the beneficence of the rich. If then we permit the devastating power of modern weaponry to spread through this combustible human landscape, we invite a conflagration that can engulf both rich and poor. The only hope for the future lies in co-operative international action, legitimized by democracy.
It is time to turn our backs on the unilateral search for security, in which we seek to shelter behind walls. Instead, we must persist in the quest for united action to counter both global warming and a weaponized world.
These twin goals will constitute vital components of stability as we move toward the wider degree of social justice that alone gives hope of peace.
Some of the needed legal instruments are already at hand, such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Convention on Climate Change, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. As concerned citizens, we urge all governments to commit to these goals that constitute steps on the way to replacement of war by law.
To survive in the world we have transformed, we must learn to think in a new way. As never before, the future of each depends on the good of all.
Zhohres I. Alferov Physics, 2000
Sidney Altman Chemistry, 1989
Philip W. Anderson Physics, 1977
Oscar Arias Sanchez Peace, 1987
J. Georg Bednorz Physics, 1987
Bishop Carlos F.X. Belo Peace, 1996
Baruj Benacerraf Physiology/Medicine, 1980
Hans A. Bethe Physics, 1967
James W. Black Physiology/Medicine, 1988
Guenter Blobel Physiology/Medicine, 1999
Nicolaas Bloembergen Physics, 1981
Norman E. Boriaug Peace, 1970
Paul D. Boyer Chemistry, 1997
Bertram N. Brockhouse Physic, 1994
Herbert C. Brown Chemistry, 1979
Georges Charpak Physics, 1992
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji Physics, 1997
John W. Cornforth Chemistry, 1975
Francis H. Crick Physiology/Medicine, 1962
James W. Cronin Physics, 1980
Paul J. Crutzen Chemistry, 1995
Robert F. Curl Chemistry, 1996
His Holiness The Dalai Lama Peace, 1989
Johann Deisenhofer Chemistry, 1988
Peter C. Doherty Physiology/Medicine, 1996
Manfred Eigen Chemistry, 1967
Richard R. Ernst Chemistry, 1991
Leo Esaki Physics, 1973
Edmond H. Fischer Physiology/Medicine, 1992
Val L. Fitch Physics, 1980
Dario Fo Literature, 1997
Robert F. Furchgott Physiology/Medicine, 1998
Walter Gilbert Chemistry, 1980
Sheldon L. Glashow Physics, 1979
Mikhail S. Gorbachev Peace, 1990
Nadine Gordimer Literature, 1991
Paul Greengard Physiology/Medicine, 2000
Roger Guillemin Physiology/Medicine, 1977
Herbert A. Hauptman Chemistry, 1985
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry, 1986
Antony Hewish Physics, 1974
Roald Hoffman Chemistry, 1981
Gerardus 't Hooft Physics, 1999
David H. Hubel Physiology/Medicine, 1981
Robert Huber Chemistry, 1988
Francois Jacob Physiology/Medicine, 1975
Brian D. Josephson Physics, 1973
Jerome Karle Chemistry, 1985
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics, 2001
H. Gobind Khorana Physiology/Medicine, 1968
Lawrence R. Klein Economics, 1980
Klaus von Klitzing Physics, 1985
Aaron Klug Chemistry, 1982
Walter Kohn Chemistry, 1998
Herbert Kroemer Physics, 2000
Harold Kroto Chemistry, 1996
Willis E. Lamb Physics, 1955
Leon M. Lederman Physics, 1988
Yuan T. Lee Chemistry, 1986
Jean-Marie Lehn Chemistry, 1987
Rita Levi-Montalcini Physiology/Medicine, 1986
William N. Lipscomb Chemistry, 1976
Alan G. MacDiarmid Chemistry, 2000
Daniel L. McFadden Economics, 2000
César Milstein Physiology/Medicine, 1984
Franco Modigliani Economics, 1985
Rudolf L. Moessbauer Physics, 1961
Mario J. Molina Chemistry, 1995
Ben R. Mottelson Physics, 1975
Ferid Murad Physiology/Medicine, 1998
Erwin Neher Physiology/Medicine, 1991
Marshall W. Nirenberg Physiology/Medicine, 1968
Joseph E. Murray Physiology/Medicine, 1990
Paul M. Nurse Physiology/Medicine, 2001
Max F. Perutz Chemistry, 1962
William D. Phillips Physics, 1997
John C. Polanyi Chemistry, 1986
Ilya Prigogine Chemistry, 1977
Burton Richter Physics, 1976
Heinrich Rohrer Physics, 1987
Joseph Rotblat Peace, 1995
Carlo Rubbia Physics, 1984
Bert Sakmann Physiology/Medicine, 1991
Frederick Sanger Chemistry, 1958; 1980
José Saramago Literature, 1998
J. Robert Schrieffer Physics, 1972
Melvin Schwartz Physics, 1988
K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry, 2001
Richard E. Smalley Chemistry, 1996
Jack Steinberger Physics, 1988
Joseph E. Stiglitz Economics, 2001
Horst L. Stormer Physics, 1998
Henry Taube Chemistry, 1983
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics, 1993
Susumu Tonegawa Physiology/Medicine, 1997
Charles H. Townes Physics, 1964
Daniel T. Tsui Physics, 1998
Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu Peace, 1984
John Vane Physiology/Medicine, 1982
John E. Walker Chemistry, 1997
Eric F. Wieschaus Physiology/Medicine, 1982
Jody Williams Peace, 1997
Robert W. Wilson Physics, 1978
Ahmed H. Zewail Chemistry, 1999
What is it, and why is it a threat to the world?
was coming up, it was a dangerous world, and you knew exactly who
they were," he said. "It was us vs. them, and it was
clear who them was. Today, we are not so sure who the they are,
but we know they're there." George W. Bush
Militarism is the use of the military to pursue the misguided and selfish personal interests of ruling politicians. In a militaristic society, military spending is bloated and prioritized. Hundreds of billions of dollars are annually spent on the military, dollars that end up in the pockets of a few wealthy people with a vested interest in keeping military spending high. Militarism requires the regular propping up of satanic enemies by the ruling politicians bogeymen used to scare Americans into believing that more and more of our tax dollars should be spent on the military, rather than on constructive and peaceful endeavors. Often, these "enemies" are created by the very military that wants to destroy them, as was Manual Noreiga (Reagan/Bush administration), Saddam Hussein (Reagan/Bush administration, and Osama bin Laden (Reagan/Bush administration). Rather than destroying the bogeymen, militarism destroys innocent civilians and their property.
Whoever came up with the idea that one man should have the power to command the largest army in the world? Such a scenario is both dangerous and foolish; 200 years ago when the US was founded, we were a few hundred thousand people in the wilderness, not 280 million with the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons ever to exist. In todays world, our collective, secure, peaceful future requires the condemnation of war, the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, and the demilitarization of the planet. Certainly, the notion that one unelected Texas businessman can command, at will, a huge army with a nuclear arsenal, is terribly misguided, obsolete, and potentially devastating to the planet and its people.
There is no question that the US needs a national defense, however, we can fully support our military while ardently denouncing militarism. Alternatives to militarism should be obvious:
1) The US military should be used for the defense of our country, or for international peacekeeping, period. It should not be used to force the personal ideologies of ruling US politicians upon the rest of the world; it should not be used to pave the way for American corporate expansion across the planet; and it should not be used to gain access to natural resources in other countries.
2) War should be denounced as a crime against humanity and anyone who plans for, or wages war should be brought to justice by the world community. To be responsible for starting a needless war is unquestionably the greatest failure of any politician at any time in history, past or present.
3) All weapons of mass destruction in any country in the world should be destroyed. Their very existence is an abomination, an insult, and a threat to every decent person on Earth.
4) The United States should pledge to respect international law and thereby become an example to the rest of the world.
5) Our country should be recognized by our citizens as the land we live on and all of its inhabitants. Our country is neither a flag nor the small group of politicians who currently control the government. We owe no allegiance to the politicians; they are hired by us to serve our country and we must stand up and demand this from them. Otherwise they will continue to bleed our economy, our natural resources, our young men and women, and our planet, to satisfy their egotistical addiction to militarism.
"I think it's natural that people look mostly at the visible evidence of militarism, but if one stops there, one cannot be very effective in trying to "defeat" it. That is, if we work to stop U.S. military intervention somewhere, if we try to prevent an increase in the military budget, if we lobby to keep a particular weapons system from receiving funding from Congress, we might partially succeed with some of these goals once in a great while, but it will do nothing to affect the foundation of militarism that makes such manifestations continue to arise and come back to haunt us.
To do so, we have to publicly talk about the value system that supports militarism and how that value system is cultivated. This means looking at institutions of socialization and the process of teaching values, and addressing the problem at that level--as opposed to focusing only on the surface level where we see the manifestations.
Militarism in the U.S. is taught largely through our culture and educational institutions, especially through the military's involvement in schools, the media, etc. Until we do more to counter militarism at this level, it will be impossible to every work effectively to stop the wars, military spending, and the exploitative foreign policy that our military is used to enforce.
As an example of the kind of definition of militarism I am talking about, please see: http://www.comdsd.org/militarism.htm."
Article 8 - War crimes
1. The Court shall have jurisdiction in respect of war crimes in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.
2. For the purpose of this Statute, "war crimes" means:
* (a) Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention . . . .
* (b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
* (iv) Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;
* (v) Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;
From Rome Statute of the International Court
The days are short and cold, the streets are univiting. The political climate seems as chilly as the winter winds, and everybody is saying that 911 changed everything. Why take action now? The government, the media, even some of our own allies warn us that public opinion is no longer with us, that repression will be high, that any action we take will be too costly both personally and politically, that we should hold back and wait.
But The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and the other institutions of corporate capitalism are not waiting. They continue to meet, to argue for a new round of trade negotiations, to impose policies that result in a widening gap between rich and poor, and a staggering global death toll. And as winter nears, the potential rises for massive starvation in Afghanistan if relief trucks cannot deliver supplies because of our bombs.
And so on bad days we hear our own inner voices murmuring, 'It's hopeless. We've lost. The forces we face are too strong for us. Give up." These voices seem reasonable, sensible. But any Witch can recognize a spell being cast. A spell is a story we tell ourselves that shapes our emotional and psychic world. The media, the authorities tell a story so pervasive that most people mistake it for reality. We're fighting a righteous war against the Source of All Evil, and everyone supports Bush, and corporate control is the only way to be safe and to provide what we need, and to question is Evil, too.
The counterspell is simple: tell a different story. Pull back the curtain: expose their story for the false tale it is. Act 'as if'. Act as if we weren't doomed, as if what we did in the next weeks and months could shift the balance of fate. Act as if the movement were coming back stronger than ever, attracting thousands and hundreds of thousands who have had their eyes opened by the war.
Act as if this movement were the most creative, visionary, inspiring, funny, welcoming, transforming and truly revolutionary movement that had ever been. As if we had new language, new tactics, new ways of communicating that could waken the dormant dissent and the sleeping visions in every heart. Act as if a whole new public dialogue was beginning outside the boxes drawn by our traditional political lines and our TV sets. Act as if all the different factions in our movement were learning how to support each other, how to work in true coalition and act with true solidarity. As if all who should be allies were able to come together and work for our common goals.
Act as of we were going to win. But won't these actions alienate and polarize people? Maybe, if they're ill conceived, gratuitously violent, or simply a matter of screaming the old slogans of the sixties over bullhorns. Or if they're timid, apologetic, whining, they may simply leave people bored and yawning. But our silence will not change public opinion, will not educate people or get them thinking again about larger issues. Actions that are creative, vibrant, confident and visionary, actions that directly and clearly confront the institutions we oppose and pose alternatives can be empowering both to those who take part and to those who hear of them. We need to advance, not retreat, to take the political space we want and claim it. If we silence ourselves, we're tacitly agreeing that our protests are indeed some distant kin to the terrorists' acts. If we insist that our voices be heard, that open dissent is not terrorism, but the deepest commitment to democracy, once the inevitable vitriol wears off, we'll find that we've gained legitimacy and shifted the ground of the dialogue. The longer we wait to claim that space, the more rigidified the patterns of oppression will grow. We need to act now, while the future is still fluid, and set the pattern ourselves.
Since 911, I've been to more rallies and marches than I can count. I've marched with Gandhian pacifists and white-haired women in wheelchairs. I've marched with dancing, drumming Pagans. I've marched with Socialists and militants screaming about imperialism. I've marched with black masked anarchists surrounded by riot cops. And you know what? It's been okay. The police have behaved like police behave, sometimes restrained, sometimes provocative, occasionally vicious -- but that's not new. At times we met counter demonstrators, but never been more than a handful. And we often received unexpected support. I've seen construction workers flash peace signs at the Black Bloc.
Of course, our fears aren't just based on fictions. The authorities command real force, real tear gas, real clubs, real guns, real jails. Real people do die, go to prison, suffer. So might we. But fear makes things worse than they are. Fear limits our vision and our ability to take in information, makes the power holders seem omnipotent, and leads to our suppressingourselves, saving theauthorities the cost and troubleof doing it. And despair leads to paralysis. The counterspell for fear is courage: facing the possibility of the worst and then going ahead with what you know is right. The counterspell for despair is action in service of a vision. The counterspell for paralysis is stubborn, persistent passion. Even if we're wrong, if nothing we do does makes a difference, courage and passion are a better place to be than hopelessness, cynicism and fear. If the authorities repress us, that's better than becoming people who repress ourselves. If we see our dreams ripped out of our hands, that's better than never daring to dream at all.
And if we tell our own stories with enough intensity and focus, we'll start to believe them, and so will others. We'll break the spells that bind us. We'll start to want that other world we say is possible with such intensity that nothing can stop us or deny us. All it takes is our willingness to act from vision, not from fear, to risk hoping, to dare to act for what we love.