Bruce Gagnon and David Swanson are, at least to me, the two most visible people on the planet to focus on transformation of the war economy as their central abiding passion — would that more people would stop to think about what’s really going on, the abiding evil that powers the U.S. economy, the way these two men do.
Bruce says he lives in Bath, Maine, which is dependent on the MIC (Military Industrial Complex). I live in Bloomington, Indiana, only 40 miles or so from Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, one of the main job creators in this part of the state. Do Hoosiers think about this much? No. Do they ask themselves how much grant money funnelled into various departments of Indiana University is military in source and/or application? I have no idea, but I bet this is a very loaded question. I have close relatives on the east coast who depend totally on the military for their livelihoods in IT, not obviously of course, since their work for ostensibly civilian corporations is compartmentalized to such an extent that they have no idea how their particular technical piece of the puzzle fits into the rest or what the puzzle looks like when done. Why would they want to know? Their jobs are more cushy than most, they pay the bills and then some, put their kids through college and squirrel plenty away for retirement. Then again, who of us doesn’t depend on the militarization of the U.S. economy in some fashion or other?
Think about it. This insane destructiveness that we have descended into as a nation. And why don’t we realize this? Because it would just be too painful! Because the scales would have to fall from our eyes. Besides, it’s other people that we kill and bomb, not us! Oh? When the police in this country get left-over military equipment, use militarized SWAT teams to serve warrants, steal money, shoot civilians’ dogs and even people on occasion; indeed, what in our lives is NOT militarized? When “Homeland Security” can feel up our privates at will and “smart” phones are equipped to spy on our private lives, what “freedom” remains? What happened to us as a people? Where did we go? Onto our screens and other addictions, staring, stumbling towards armaggedon? Entertraining ourselves with horror movies, oblivious under our Halloween zombie masks?
Meanwhile, the Earth changes, she changes. Are we prepared for whatever?
We must wake up, before it’s too late.
October 28, 2014
by Bruce Gagnon
I live in Bath, Maine where Navy destroyers are built. These ships are outfitted with so-called “missile defense” systems that the Pentagon is today using to help surround Russia and China. Few people in my community, including activists, are interested in where these ships go or what their military mission is. It’s not popular to raise these questions — especially when Bath Iron Works is the largest industrial employer in our state.
In the US today 59% of every federal discretionary tax dollar goes to the Pentagon to fund the cancerous war machine. Our communities have become addicted to military spending as our physical and social infrastructure continues to deteriorate. There is virtually no money for anything else these days as we witness austerity cuts in social programs all around the globe.
The Pentagon says that America’s role under corporate globalization of the world economy will be “security export.” We won’t have conventional jobs making things useful to our communities; instead we will build weapons for endless war and send our kids overseas to die for the oil corporations.
In fact, today weapons are the number one industrial export of the US. And when weapons are your number one industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line? What does it say about the soul of our nation that we have to keep selling weapons and killing people in order to provide jobs so workers can feed their families?
In addition to coordinating the Global Network I am a member of Veterans For Peace, and just days ago we completed a low-tech 125-mile walk across parts of our state that we called Walk for Peace & a Sustainable Future. Increasingly, the only real job investment money coming into Maine (and across the nation) from the federal government is for military weapons production. Now, nearly 10% of Maine’s economy is reliant on weapons contracts.
We began the walk up in the beautiful mountain and lakes region called Rangeley where the Pentagon’s ‘Missile Defense Agency’ is considering putting up to 60 so-called ‘missile defense interceptors,’ which, in fact, are key elements in US first-strike attack planning and are aimed at Russia and China. Narrow, winding roads would have to be bulldozed and widened and huge holes would have to be blasted into the mountains in order to insert the missile silos. Toxic rocket fuel would be trucked in and stored — the same rocket fuel that is now contaminating water sources in 22 states across the nation. The whole plan would be an environmental disaster and would cost taxpayers more than $4 billion.
This program is an important illustration of how the nation increasingly puts blind faith in space technology to fight modern wars.
Come to find out the Pentagon didn’t want this expensive program, but pressure on Congress from the Boeing Corporation forced it to go forward with an environmental impact statement process and public hearings in four states (including Maine) to select an ‘east coast deployment’ site for the missile defense base.
Another major weapons program being built that the Pentagon did not actually want is also in Bath, Maine. General Dynamics Corporation owns Bath Iron Works where destroyers for the Navy are built. The standard destroyers cost $1.5 billion each and are outfitted with another version of these ‘missile defense’ interceptor missiles — which have had much success in their testing program. But after Obama became president he forced the Pentagon to build the new high-tech ‘stealth’ destroyer called the Zumwalt the job of which is to sneak up on China and blast it with electro-magnetic rail guns and other weapons systems. This is part of Obama’s ‘pivot’ of 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific to provocatively confront and control China.
As it turns out the majority stockholders in General Dynamics are the Crown family in Chicago who helped Obama get elected to the presidency. So he owed them, and the new Zumwalt stealth destroyer, at a cost to taxpayers of between 4 and 6 billion dollars per copy, is their reward.
As part of the US pivot to China the Pentagon needs more airfields for warplanes, barracks for troops, and ports of call for the warships being re-deployed into the Asia-Pacific. So in places like Jeju Island, South Korea we see a 500-year-old farming and fishing culture being torn apart and UNESCO-recognized world- heritage soft coral reefs just offshore being destroyed as a naval base is being built for US nuclear subs, aircraft carriers and the destroyers made in my hometown of Bath.
Endangered coral reefs in the Philippines, Australia, Hawaii, Okinawa, and other places are similarly being severely impacted by US military expansion across the region. The Global Network is working hard to build international support for the local struggles against US military devastation of the environment and way of life of these communities.
The Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the planet” but sadly, there is little acknowledgement of that fact by most climate change groups, which well illustrates the “off limits” nature of the growing military domination of our society.
Some environmental leaders have told me over the years that they don’t want to negatively impact their ‘positive working relationship’ with Democrats in Congress by taking on the more controversial military issues, which most Democrats fully support because they bring jobs to their districts.
We have become an occupied nation. The corporate oligarchy that runs the show in Washington uses space-based technologies to spy on us and to direct all warfare on the planet. In a way, you could call today’s expensive military satellites the “triggers” that make the high-tech weapons like drones and missiles work. These satellites allow the military to see everything, hear everything, and to target virtually every place on the planet.
The military industrial complex has become the primary resource-extraction service for corporate capitalism and is preparing future generations for its dead end street of endless war.
In the US, approximately 40% of all scientists, engineers and technical professionals currently work in the military sector. This is a colossal waste of talent and intellectual resources as we face the coming reality of climate change.
Due to the fiscal crisis across the nation, engineering, computer science, mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry departments in colleges and universities have become increasingly dependent on Pentagon funding. We are sold the line that high-tech robotic war will save American lives and will be a cheaper way to fight.
One key reason for the militarization of space is resource extraction on the planetary bodies. The aerospace industry says they need nuclear power in space for mining the sky. International space law is now being re-written to allow corporate control of the planetary bodies. The plan is to scrap the United Nations Moon and Outer Space Treaties.
Rovers on Mars are powered with plutonium-238. I organized campaigns to oppose nuclear launches in 1989, 1990, and 1997. Space entrepreneur Elon Musk says we must move our civilization to Mars. The Mars Society says the Earth “is a rotting, stinking, dieing planet” and that we have to move to Mars. Imagine how much money that would cost?
The militarization of everything around us is a spiritual sickness. Lakota holy man Lame Deer talked about the green frog skin — the dollar bill — and how the white man was blinded by his love for the paper money. His spiritual connection to Mother Earth was broken.
In 1877, the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse was brought onto the reservation in South Dakota as the Indian wars came to an end. Along with the end of the Civil War just 12 years earlier the military industrial complex at the time saw an end to its massive war profits. It needed an enemy to keep the military production lines humming. So a strategy was developed: Journalists and artists were paid to fabricate stories about Crazy Horse breaking out of the reservation and going back on the warpath killing innocent white children, raping white women, and burning their houses to the ground. These stories were printed in major papers across the nation and the American people were afraid and outraged. Congress swung into action and appropriated more money for weapons production, while Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull sat inside their tepees on the reservation without a gun to their names.
Similarly in our times we’ve seen the military industrial complex fabricate stories about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq, and today we see ISIS (which was trained, armed, funded and directed by the CIA and Saudi Arabia) as the justification for the US to get back into Iraq and bomb Syria.
Studies by the economics department at UMASS-Amherst show that military spending creates the fewest jobs — while spending on solar, rail, wind turbines, education, health care, or repairing sewer and water systems and our roads and bridges creates more jobs with the same amount of money.
Abolitionist Frederick Douglas reminded us that power concedes nothing without a demand. When it comes to our current evil economic system, called militarism, we should be talking about its conversion and the jobs that would result from that transformation.
Good jobs can be created byr home weatherization and building rail systems that get us out of our gas guzzling cars. Legions of unemployed workers can be hired to run town and city organic gardens. As we reject our military industrial base we lessen the impact of the war machine on our lives.
Without massive cuts in the Pentagon budget now we cannot kickstart our needed social redirection.
The integration of the economic conversion issue into the existing work of the peace, environmental, labor, and social justice movements could be a transformative strategy that would unify our disparate efforts and provide the despondent American people with a positive vision for the future. We don’t have any time to waste.