Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weapons Industry Driving Us Down To Hell

From the years 1980-84 I lived in Tokyo, Japan. Right-wing ranters on flatbed trucks were always to be found in the old part of Tokyo near the Emperor's residence. They were livid about the Kurile Islands which were grabbed by Russia at the end of WWII. Most of my friends -- young parents, artists or salary men who had gone to Todai (Tokyo University) or Kyodai (Kyoto University) -- considered the men with the megaphones quaint relics. They assured me that the Japanese people had learned their lesson about militarism, and that they now had a Constitution that expressly forbade funding a military. "The industrial cartels dragged us into war by invading and attacking countries, and we Japanese suffered very much as a result. We will not go down that path again." Many people told me some version of this over the course of the four years I lived there.

Of course U.S. military bases were found throughout Japan, and even though the war had been over for almost forty years, it was pretty clear they were there to stay. This created cognitive dissonance: Japan was pacifist, yet filled withe another nation's military outposts? Then there was the b.s. I'd always been told stateside about how hugely benevolent the Marshall Plan following the U.S. attacks using nuclear weapons to wipe out two cities. When I had a child on December 7 I realized that none of my Japanese friends knew the significance of that date for the U.S., or even what the words "Pearl Harbor" referred to. They only remembered August 8, date of the cataclysmic bombing of Hiroshima. 

Now I watch the industrialists of my own country drag us into one endless war after another, stitched together with bursts of killer robot strikes at regular intervals. My whole lifetime has been like that, and it just keeps getting worse. 

Here's how our own military industry operates our government: did you know sequestration doesn't apply to the "Overseas and Contingency Operations" budget? Nope. The funding for wars like Afghanistan and Iraq is separate from the base Pentagon budget and was explicitly protected from any mandatory cuts to balance the budget. Are you surprised? When it comes time for cuts, you already know that some budget line items are more equal than others.

More fun for Maine: Sen. Susan Collins announced her excitement over the possibility of building a nuclear missile defense site way up on the northern border. The local newspaper loyally followed suit, running the story under the headline: Maine may be chosen for missile defense system site. You can almost hear their breathless enthusiasm. Hilariously, the need for this is justified by -- the threat posed by North Korea! (Never mind the lure of those rapidly thawing Arctic sea lanes and the minerals and potential petroleum beneath them. Just never mind.)

With sequestration in place, those kept in power by WMD merchants are scrambling to service the folks that put them in office. And the people be damned.

Year after year, our congress refuses to revoke the the Authorization for Use of Military Force, used by presidents for a more than a decade to bomb just about anybody they please. It just wouldn't look patriotic to tear up the blank check for endless war that 9/11 is supposed to have justified.

Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress who dared to vote against the AUMF in 2001, has introduced a bill to repeal it. You can click here to tell the person who "represents" you in Congress to revoke the AUMF.

At the 10th anniversary of attacking Iraq under the ridiculous sobriquet "Shock and Awe" we're reminding ourselves that the whole war and occupation were founded on a series of known lies. It doesn't matter, because the purpose was making money and it succeeded handsomely on that score. We left Iraq in ruins and rife with civil unrest, exactly as intended.

The Japanese people ended up starving for years, and devastated when their unaffordable military empire collapsed.

We of the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign and allies will be out in Maine with doorhangers during April, talking with our neighbors about where our resources are going (57% to military, currently) and where they should be going.

The conversations we have while passing out the doorhangers are often encouraging because of the realization of how much we have in common with our neighbors.

Our government is in trouble, people know it, and many of them understand the urgent need to come together in these perilous times.
anti-austerity marchers in Spain, Feb. 2013  photo: Sergio Perez / Reuters

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