Last night I watched this incredible interview with author Arundhati Roy where she spoke with Alternative Radio's David Barsamian about what a globalized military-industrial complex looks like in her home country of India. While discussing the particular case of Kashmir she observed that all over the world the young and the dispossessed are in revolt and rebellion against wealthy elites who distance themselves by "seceding into space."
The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space is an international group keeping tabs on on what President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned Americans about, the for-profit weapons industry. In 2011 this looks more like a weapons-logistics-spying-reconstruction industry, a sector which is growing while the overall U.S. economy falters. Bruce Gagnon will address a conference on “The Military-Industrial Complex at 50” to be held September 16-18 at Piedmont Virginia Community College, where I will also be on hand to lead a federal budget activity. Here he answers questions about the upcoming conference:
Why are you going to the MIC at 50 conference in Charlottesville? What will you talk about, and why do you think a conference on this theme is worthwhile?
I will share what I know about the Pentagon's plans to make America's primary role under corporate globalization a thing they call "security export.” With three wars going on these days, costing $10 billion every month just in Afghanistan, I can't sit back and watch social progress in America wither on the vine of neglect and militarism. So I need to be with serious people who are engaged in trying to stop this domestic and foreign policy madness. We need to come together from all over the nation to share information and flesh out alternative, transformative visions for the future – rather than the present madness of endless war and corporate profits.
We are up against big corporate power that wants to control the declining resources on the planet, and they want our kids to fight their wars for them. I've got to stay in the thick of it because I want the next generation to have a future.
You mentioned the globalization of the MIC. Could you give an example?
The U.S. has determined that we won't be able to compete with China's economy. So the Pentagon has developed a strategy that says, if we can just control China's access to resources like oil, then we will control the keys to their economic engine. For the past dozen years the Pentagon has been doubling our military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
A key element is the porting of Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with so-called "missile defense" systems on-board, surrounding China's coast. They are made at Bath Iron Works where I live in Maine (the cost of the ships just doubled from $1.5 billion each to $3 billion), and the U.S. needs more ports near China to dock the growing numbers of ships.
The U.S. is twisting the arm of the right-wing South Korean government to build a Navy base on Jeju Island, which is just off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, right smack dab in the Yellow Sea, along the water route China uses to import 80% of their oil. The farming and fishing village on Jeju Island is in revolt because construction of the base will ruin their way of life. People there are using hunger strikes, and sitting in front of trucks intended to cover the rocky coastline with cement. People are going to jail for their non-violent actions, and the Global Network has been helping to build support for them around the world.
Recently you were part of protests against the Pentagon's Blue Angels air show, which uses 48,600 gallons of fuel a weekend, and churns out tons of greenhouse gases into our already stressed environment. How much longer will people in a tight economy put up with this kind of blatant waste and pollution?
People are stirred up about all this war spending and severe cutbacks in human needs programs but we have a corporate arterial blockage of the heart of our democracy. We have mostly corporate-owned media, and Congress is largely under the control of these same corporate entities. So people are not sure what to do – they feel depressed and disempowered. That's why this conference is so important.
Last June the Global Network held a conference here in the U.S. with international participation. What came out of this event?
It was a chance for key activists from around the world to get together and share the latest info on U.S. space domination plans. The main thing that came home to us was the extraordinary cost of the Pentagon plan to militarize space. Some years ago, one of the aerospace industry publications said they were sending their lobbyists to Washington to "secure a stable funding source for their space plans" identified as the "entitlement programs." Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the social programs the military-industrial complex identified for defunding so they could afford to pay for space-directed warfare.
It's like two trains heading toward one another on a collision course. Endless war, or social progress – which one do the people really want?
The Global Network is organizing Keep Space for Peace week Oct 1-8. What do you see as key events during this time period? Why are they important?
Local events around the world will help build a public consciousness about how space technology directs all warfare on the Earth today -- no matter whether you are a troop on the ground, in a tank, on a plane, or on a ship, everything is directed from military satellites in space. The Space Command is saying that the U.S. must "control and dominate" space and "deny" other countries access to space so that we can be the "Master of Space." The next step is to build anti-satellite weapons so the U.S. can destroy other countries' satellites. It's all very expensive, dangerous and provocative.
It's creating a new arms race in space – which is just fine with the aerospace industry. In the end they make a lot of money while the people lose funding for public education, health care, and infrastructure. The only jobs left will be fighting in wars for the corporate oligarchy – unless we stop this. The Achilles heel is the cost, but I've learned never to underestimate the MIC.
You've been focusing on the need to “keep space for peace” for 27 years now. How do you understand the importance of this goal, at different levels?
It's the future....we either stop the arms race into space or we become a feudal society, it's really quite that simple.
I owe my own personal transformation to those few activists holding signs outside the gates of my base in California on weekends during the Vietnam War. I saw how it energized the 15,000 GI's on my base to debate the war endlessly in the barracks at night, in the chow hall, and on our jobs during the day.
I believe in protest and I believe that creating experiences for people through public actions helps them think and grow. Nothing changes people like their own personal experiences. So I remain dedicated to creating opportunities for ordinary, good-hearted people to have political experiences.
Your work on the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign continues at the local and national level. How does this campaign connect the dots?
We are making people think about where their money is going, and at the same time giving them information to help them imagine how their wasted money could have been used doing something good. Taxpayers in State of Virginia have paid $31.1 billion for total war spending (Iraq plus Afghanistan) since 2001. Just imagine how that money could have been used in Virginia.
It's the same all over the nation. We wouldn't be in this fiscal mess if we hadn't been in these wars for the past 10 years. I just read they want to extend our troops in Afghanistan until 2024. How will we pay for that? It's insane. People are waking up to this nonsense. It's time for folks to rattle their chains. We've become slaves to the military-industrial complex.
For more information on “MIC at 50 - A National Conference in Charlottesville, VA” visit MIC50.org