Friday, February 24, 2017

The Hubris Of Endless Wars Brings Down Empires -- In The End

Image courtesy Anthony Freda
No war is really endless, though it can seem that way in comparison with the puny life span of humans. A span which wars typically make even more puny; just ask the relatives of nine babies, toddlers and children killed in Yemen by U.S. special forces on January 29.

Back in 2003 when Bush Jr. proposed to attack Iraq on the basis of lies about their offensive capabilities, millions around the globe poured into the streets to protest. The invasion happened anyway, and the U.S. is still there. 


During the Obama years, liberals in the U.S. went silent. We were still in Iraq and Afghanistan (and building bases as fast as we could in Somalia and Sudan, and bombing Libya, and arming "moderate" rebels in Syria and "pivoting" toward Asia) and the Pentagon's share of budget was still climbing upwards from 50% of the total. But the commander in chief was handsome and his wife and daughters were beautiful and, besides, "terror" and "9/11" were words often heard from his lips.

Image courtesy Anthony Freda

So with the ascendance of the demogogue with bad hair I've been curious to see if people would flood back into the streets to protest the crippling costs -- environmental, financial or spiritual -- of U.S. wars that now seem designed to be endless.


Not seeing it.


Masses of white middle class women whose reproductive rights are threatened will not come out against wars. They mostly supported Hillary or Bernie, both of whom had long pedigrees as warmongers. Their privilege and lack of initiative in finding real news for themselves will continue to blind them.


But there are glimmers of hope.

Alli McCracken and associates January 20, 2017 in Washington DC (photo: Nony Dutton)
A 20-something friend who recently left her job at an NGO reported that she has found plenty of young people in Washington DC organizing around anti-imperialism and committed to opposing wars and occupations. Pushing back against U.S. enabling of Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine is one aspect of their work, and this will surely become more important under the current regime.

Today I'm taking a meeting with two young people in Maine who responded to my "Open Letter to Young Organizers: I'm Against Imperial Wars, How About You?". My pitch was basically, I'll gladly support your issues and I invite you to consider supporting my opposition to wars.

Image courtesy Anthony Freda

Environmental advocacy is what young people care fervently about as they contemplate their future on a devastated planet. My job in my remaining years here is to connect the dots between militarism and pollution. 



Decades of failing to count the carbon output (and other pollutants) generated  by the Pentagon and its contractors has enabled the elephant in the room to evade notice. As Professor Tom Hastings of Portland State University noted, each time a new administration comes into office, advances in holding the Pentagon accountable for its carbon footprint are swept away by the "new" regime.



Plenty of signals indicate the waging of war will continue apace no matter whether the occupant of the White House has a D or an R after his or her name.




An inaugural promise by the demagogue with bad hair to "eradicate completely from the face of the Earth" the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism" is idiotic of course. For one thing, terrorism is a strategy and not a thing that can be eradicted. Secondly, our relentless bombing and invading of oil-rich nations and strategically located nations has only produced (as predicted) far more radical Islamic warriors. As intended. How else to keep the profit mills spinning so that the CEOs of war profiteers like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin can continue to rake in the spoils of war? 


Conversion to a peace economy is the only path forward out of this wilderness, but that possibility will be squelched and silenced by squeals about terror.

cartoon by Will Park

My friend organizer Bruce Gagnon is convinced that the master plan is to cut social programs to the bone to continue funding Pentagon-affiliated profit centers. This is hopeful in the sense that most people will not rise up and demand change until it is their ox that is being gored.



https://youtu.be/oU3Q45kU2zM

Are the powers that be just waiting until the elderly voters of the baby boom generation are out of the picture? I predict they will be amazed at the rising generations of resistance.
Kecia Lewis as Mother Courage in a 2016 production by the Classic Stage Company 

German playwright Bertolt Brecht created his historical play Mother Courage and Her Children to comment on how a society at war makes everyone dependent upon the conflict even as it consumes its own young. Created in resistance to the rise of Fascism and Nazi warmongering, the setting is the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe from 1618 to 1648. It probably seemed endless to those who endured it. 

In 2002 then U.S. Ambassador Richard Haass laid out the master plan in effect to this day:


There can be no exit strategy in the war against terrorism. It is a war that will persist. There is unlikely to be an Antietam, a decisive battle in this war. An exit strategy, therefore, will do us no good. What we need is an endurance strategy.

Ours is not the first empire to fall prey to this kind of hubris. Romans, Ottomans, Persians, Nazis, Japanese imperialists: all thought they were mighty unto eternity, and all wheezed to a halt when their resources had been exhausted.

Image courtesy Anthony Freda

This time the resource we exhaust may be the capacity of the planet to support our form of life. Earth may have the ultimate endurance strategy, and it many very well not include us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hiding From Constituents During Recess


A sign of the times is elected "representatives" hiding from the very people they were elected to represent. 


Voters in Maine mounted a campaign to find their elusive representative Bruce Poliquin during the congressional recess this week. Ridgely Fuller of Belfast wrote:



For the last two months 2nd District voters have been visiting, calling and writing to Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s offices requesting  Town Hall meetings during the congressional recess. Constituents want to share their concerns and understand Bruce Poliquin’s vision for the future of Maine. Despite assurances that we would receive a response last Friday were told that his home recess schedule was “completely booked”.  His office staff in Wash DC informed us that Rep. Poliquin does not hold Town Meetings for “security” reasons. They also won’t release his schedule for “security” reasons.
An automated response to a request for an appearance told us [Poliquin] uses visits in the 2nd  District only to meet with “job creators” and “local leaders”.

Meanwhile I was with another group of constituents who turned up at the Portland Public Library yesterday because of an email they had received stating that Senator Angus King would be on hand to respond to his constituent's concerns.


Instead they were met by part time office staffer Dan Reardon who was bewildered at their misunderstanding. Queried about when King would be holding town hall meetings during the recess, he responded that none were scheduled. But, he would be happy to convey our questions to the senator.


Here's what Eric Poulin of The Soapbox on WMPG, Southern Maine's Community Radio Station wanted to ask:



When it was my turn I asked how the senator reconciled his proclaimed advocacy for environmental health with his years of funding for the Pentagon, the biggest fossil fuel consumer of any organization on the planet. Reardon responded, "That's a good question." 


If King himself had been there I expect that he would have answered my question by citing the need for "security" as a top priority, and then dodged my follow up question, "But senator, isn't our greatest security threat climate chaos and rising sea levels?" These are inconvenient truths that those in power believe are best not aired in public.
"Protest at Arctic Council events in Portland" October 5, 2016

King, who hosted an arctic council in Maine last year to plan how to capitalize on opportunities offered by thawing northern shorelines, would probably rather not have to answer my question.


Meanwhile, just up the road, a different group of constituents was chasing down Maine's other senator, Susan Collins, following a street action opposing the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) outside major investor TD Bank. Activists Starr Gilmartin reported:


We went down the street with Morgana [Warner Evans] to do an impromptu town hall meeting with Collins lunching at restaurant down the hill. She refuses to go to town halls to meet with the community, the community will meet her on the street.

In a related development, the juiciest troll bait on my twitter feed this week was the demand that my rep should meet with his constituents. It seemed like the talking points had already gone out to attack anyone who called out a rep for failing to meet with the public.


(Note that Chellie Pingree is not my representative, and I am unable to find if she is or isn't holding any community meetings during recess as she usually does.) 

A tempest in the rather small teapot that is the state of Maine, but part of an international trend where public agencies stop even pretending to be accountable to the public they serve. A concerned Australian shared this tidbit from a letter she recieved from Greenpeace recently:


we asked a government agency - the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) - for information about a proposal to give $1billion of taxpayers’ money to kick-start the Carmichael coal mine. Denied. Why? It might generate community protests and questions from journalists. 
This behaviour from our government is secretive and undemocratic. They're ready to spend billions of public dollars funding dirty energy and endangering a national treasure - the public has every right to know about it.
This seasoned environment activist further noted:
hitting a brick wall in my efforts to encourage Westpac bank, one of Australia's ' Big Four' not to support Adani.  A submission through their suggestions and feedback page met with a ' we are unable to respond to your email, please ring..' I did and was advised that the online form was the only way to communicate with them, with further suggestion that perhaps there were problems with their website. I tried again later with the same result. 
Despite being told that they do not have a mailing address, I have discovered one, so the next step will be posting a snail mail letter and lodging a copy in person at a branch.  
So there's another tactic -- give people the run around until they give up.
But guess what? We're not giving up.

Monday, February 20, 2017

When Other Nations Interfere in U.S. Government, Some Are More Equal Than Others

Illustration of a carnival float recently unveiled in Viareggio, Italy -- a nation where the U.S. has meddled in elections since 1948.
The most raging controversy of many on my social media posts lately has been the argument sparked by sharing an article from Dan Kovalik on The World Post, "Listen Liberals: Russia Is Not Our Enemy." I had not anticipated that the arguments presented for this point of view would draw so much ire; in general the older, whiter respondents are the angriest, while the younger and more diverse respondents see Kovalik's point. I suppose the polarizing of the public's outlook in the current era is best explained by media diet, with those consuming MSNBC most likely to be drinking the Koolaid of Russia as boogey man.

Sharing this meme did not seem to dampen the ardor of the hate Russia brigade:



To me this map suggests an authentic motive for demonizing Russia: look at all that thawing Arctic shoreline, ripe for Western imperialists to sink in their drilling gigs and piplelines. 

The responses ranged from demanding to know why Kovalik was "whitewashing Stalin" (not alive during the time period being analyzed) and why I was bashing liberals rather than opposing the current regime. People I used to think stood on the same side of the antiwar movement with me -- people who were notably absent during the Obomber years -- object to criticism of the narrative being sold by the corporate press, and I think it is probably because they don't get out of the echo chamber very often to seek information elsewhere.

I tried to broaden the texts we were considering by suggesting "The Neocons and the 'Deep State' Have Neutered the T$$$$ Presidency, It's Over Folks!" by The Saker in GlobalResearch and the documentary Ukraine on Fire by Oliver Stone. The latter describes how the U.S. supports neo-Nazis there.

What I should have shared is something the came across my screen the next day: "Israel interferes in our politics all the time, and it's never a scandal" by Philip Weiss in Mondoweiss.

As spring approaches, the prospect of the annual AIPAC gala in Washington DC for U.S. lawmakers is on my mind. Plus,"Bibi" Netanyahu and the demagogue have just taken a meeting upon the occasion of a state visit by the Israeli Prime Minister. Mondoweiss contributor Katie Miranda created a cartoon of their exchanges titled "The day the two greatest salesmen in the world met at the White House."

Actually I had been thinking about Bibi or, more specifically, his wife, as news rolled in about how much the lavish life style of the First Family is costing U.S. taxpayers (allegedly one month of guarding them costs approximately as much as one year of guarding the Obamas). Sarah'le as she is popularly known is sometimes the subject of columnist Uri Avnery's observations on government by kleptocracy.  Last summer his column on Gush Shalom's website "Petty Corruption" revealed


The generous Israeli taxpayers (including me) paid for the five days of Bibi's stay in New York last fall, to the tune of some 600,000 dollars. This sum – more than 100 thousand dollars per day – included the payment for his private hairdresser (1600 dollars) and his make-up woman (1750 dollars). The purpose of the trip was to address the UN General Assembly. I wonder how much each word cost. 
The information was disclosed by order of the court under the Freedom of Information Law.

There are more ominous parallels between Israel's government and the current regime in the U.S. Both aspire to an apartheid state where white makes right and profits are to be had building separation walls and supplying the technology for human rights violations based upon racism. 
Photo shared by Dawn Neptune Adams at Oceti Oyate camp, Standing Rock:
"HolyElk Lafferty standing in front of the militarized police response to a Grandmothers' Tipi Teaching" Feb. 19, 2017

Both the U.S. and Israel practice vicious suppression of indigenous people's demand to live in peace and without inteference on land and waterways their families have nurtured for many generations.

A Palestinian woman mourns the destruction of olive trees. | Photo: Flickr / Frank M. Rafik

Just this week the Senate considered appointing David Friedman the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, a man who maintains a home in Jerusalem courtesy of ethnic cleansing during al-Nakba. In his piece on Electronic Intifada Michael Brown wondered "Why won't Democrats call out Friedman's crimes?
The posting of a settlement advocate as US ambassador to Israel would certainly mark a new extreme. But it would not be illogical. 
For decades, the US political elite – Democrats and Republicans alike – have advanced Israel’s colonialist project by providing billions of dollars in military aid. This is simply another step toward the US government normalizing the illegal settlements it has watched grow over the last 50 years.
An old joke comes to mind. Q: Why doesn't Israel just become the 51st state already? A: Because then they would only have two senators.

Police cooperation is a less well-known aspect of the cozy relationship between the alleged "only democracy in the Middle East" and the alleged democracy I live under; militarized police response to nonviolent civil disobedience looks similar in the U.S. and Israel because law enforcement officials regularly go to Israel for training. Sometimes the training occurs here, on U.S. soil.

But, hey, let's keep demonizing Russia and deflecting attempts to see ourselves as others in the world see us: the most violent, warmongering, election-interfering nation in existence. No matter whether there's a D or an R in the Oval Office. 

Because: do as we say, not as we do.


https://youtu.be/Iy0dox4l09o

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Immense Cost To Our Planetary Environment Of Our Government’s Addiction To War-making

Painted banner by the author of this post, Russell Wray.
Today I'm sharing an op-ed written by Zumwalt 12 member Russell Wray, a fantastic artist with a focus on loving and protecting marine life.

Russell's op-ed was first published in the Bangor Daily News on January 30, 2017 under the headline "BIW should make life-affirming products instead of death machines."


On February 1st, the trial of the Zumwalt 12 will begin. We will be going to stand trial for obstructing a public way just outside of the Bath Iron Works (BIW), during a  protest of the “christening” of a Navy Zumwalt destroyer this past June 18th. 

Though none of us dispute the fact that we did indeed block traffic on the road for approximately ten minutes, we are pleading not-guilty, and the jury will hear why we believe our action was not only reasonable, but it was also necessary, in order to try to prevent a much greater crime that would do far greater harm to our planet.  

Four of the Zumwalt 12 are veterans of the US military, all members of Veterans For Peace, who strongly believe that our nation’s militaristic, imperialist policies and actions are in violation of international law and have made the US a rogue state. They recognize the fact that the Zumwalt has nothing to do with defending the coastline of the United States, for it was designed and built to be a stealth, forward deployed attack weapon.  

Like other Navy warships, it will likely be ported at some of the roughly one thousand US bases around the world. These bases usually come at the expense of the local people’s right to decide for themselves if they even want that base on their own lands and waters, as well as their right to a healthy environment. For these veterans, sitting down in the road at BIW was “an act of civil resistance, not a matter of breaking the law, but an action taken in response to broken laws.”

It was a cry out to the American people to look at what our government is doing to others around the world, in our name.
A number of us choose to take this action for deeply held faith-based reasons. One of these has stated that “As a follower of the nonviolent Jesus, I found it impossible to remain silent as another weapon of mass destruction was blessed and prepared for delivery to the Navy…..Through the simple act of sitting down and refusing to move, we embodied a resounding “No” to the immeasurable suffering caused by national policies that have made weapons of masdestruction and unrestrained, endless war our country’s major exports.”
Members of the jury will also be hearing from some of us economic reasons for opposing these warships. Only three of these ships having been, or are being built thus far, at a staggering cost of over $21 billion. This brings to mind President Eisenhower's  famous quote: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…” 

There is also the immense cost to our planetary environment brought about by our government’s addiction to war-making. 
To mention only two of the innumerable ways our planet is suffering this addiction: The Pentagon’s vast carbon footprint, the Pentagon being the single largest contributor to climate disruption on the planet. The other, an important reason for my own participation in the action, is the great harm being done to marine life because of the Navy’s refusal to take meaningful, commonsense mitigation measures that would drastically reduce impacts resulting from its reckless use of sonar. 

While we each had our own personal reasons that led us to sit down in the road that day, it’s fair to say that we all share the belief that if we are going to continue living on this planet, it is absolutely necessary that we move away from militarism and war towards a more sustainable culture of diplomacy and cooperation, where justice prevails, and we care for one another and the Earth. 
We would all be much better off, if instead of building death machines, BIW’s skilled workers were building high-speed rail, wind turbines, and other sustainable, life-affirming products. Lets make that change happen!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Path Of Most Resistance Would Oppose Wars, Too

Image from petition "Will you stand for peace?" directed at the organizers of the April 29 People's Climate March
What's wrong with this picture? It speaks a thousand unnecessary words about why war and militarism are the most clear and present threat to environmental health. 

It would be hard to think of a more effective engine of climate change than the billowing smoke of the thousands of fires caused by weapons in the oil and gas rich regions of our planet.

My friend Jenny Gray posted some wisdom today that I've lost in the flood of information; essentially, she vowed to follow the path of most resistance. I inferred her nod to the notion that the path of least resistance often leads to people supporting policies that are deadly to the planet and its life forms. For instance, men in offices blandly signing death warrants for names on a list.

The path of least resistance these days is masquerading as the path of most resistance. (Because, the demagogue with bad hair!!!) However, if you bear in mind that the way most propaganda works is not by telling lies but by directing our attention away from glaring truths, the mask falls away.

The organization World Beyond War is circulating this critique of the so-called "People's Climate March" slated for April 29 in Washington DC. Among the claims on the march organizers' web site:
There are nine points to the People’s Climate platform that were developed over the last year. They are:
  • Directly and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas and toxic pollution to successfully combat climate change and improve public health
  • Mandate a transition to an equitable and sustainable New Energy and Economic Future that limits the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels
  • Provide a Just Transition for communities and workers negatively impacted by the shift to a New Energy and Economic Future that includes targeted economic opportunity and provides stable income, health care, and education
  • Demand that every job pays a wage of at least $15 an hour, protects workers, and provides a good standard of living, pathways out of poverty, and a right to organize
  • Ensure that investments are targeted to create pathways for low-income people and people of color to access good jobs and improve the lives of communities of color, indigenous peoples, low-income people, small farmers, women, and workers.
  • Make bold investments in the resilience of states, cities, tribes, and communities that are threatened by climate change; including massive investments in infrastructure systems from water, transportation, and solid waste to the electrical grid and safe, green building and increasing energy efficiency that will also create millions of jobs in the public and private sector
  • Reinvest in a domestic industrial base that drives towards an equitable and sustainable New Energy and Economic Future, and fight back against the corporate trade-induced global race to the bottom
  • Market- and policy-based mechanisms must protect human rights and critical, native ecosystems and reduce pollution at source

Sounds good, right? Except that there's no mention of the #1 driver of carbon pollution and climate change: the military.

If you can't smell the Democratic Party bullshit at this point, you may have a head cold interfering with your olfactory organ.

Why won't people who claim to be concerned about the environment -- for instance, 350.org -- come out against wars? Probably because their political allies have taken and continue to take massive donations from the corporations who profit from building climate wrecking weapons of mass destruction.

Wars begun before the current regime took the White House will continue to get uglier, and new wars may even get nuclear

When will the misinformed people in the U.S. mount significant resistance to militarism as a way of life? After it's already too late?

You can join me in signing the petition to the People's Climate March organizers here, though it is unlikely they will listen as their ears are plugged up with corporate donations. But if another person sees that you signed and is led to ask a crucial question about the link between militarism and climate change, your communication will have worked.

You can also join the Natural Guard campaign by signing the pledge here. Be a communication worker and help bring news of the path of real resistance to people befuddled by corporate media messaging.

Add your name to join the Natural Guard effort from wherever you are!

I pledge to speak out about the effects of militarism on our environment, because the commons we all share that sustain life are valuable to me. 

In discussions about security and safety, I will remind others of the need to count in the cost in pollution and fuel consumption of waging wars all around the planet.

In discussions about acting soon to protect our loved ones from the effects of climate chaos, I will remind others of the need to examine the role of the Pentagon and its many contractors in contributing to planetary warming.


Lisa Savage, Solon, ME
Mark Roman, Solon, ME
Bruce Gagnon, Bath, ME
Wade Fulmer
Curtis Cole
Bob Dale
Christine A. DeTroy
Eric Herter
Ann E. Ruthsdottir
Barbara Williamson
natasha mayers
Jacqui Deveneau
Beth Adams
Thomas L. Fusco
Jason Rawn!
Janet Caldwell, Damariscotta, ME
Peter S. Morgan, Jr., Raymond, ME
Dawn Neptune Adams
Dixie Searway, Limerick, ME
Kevin James
Sidney Mitchell
Pat Taub, Portland, ME
Starr C. Gilmartin, Trenton, ME
Lora Louise Somlyo
Helen Anderson
John M. Kinsella
Anne Johnson
Martha Spiess
Janet Weil, Concord, CA
Lynne Harwood
Kirk Robbins, Portland, ME
Michelle Fournier, North Yarmouth, ME
Richard Clement, Pittston, ME
Selene Spivak, Portland, ME
Judith Hopkins
Bob Klotz
Nancy B. Baxter
David Larsen, Portland, ME
Ridgely Fuller
Pat Hynes
Ginny Schneider
Vicki Saint Amand
Mike King
Nathan James
Ken Jones, Swannanoa, NC
Sal Mangiagli, CT
Rachel Lyn Rumson
Rosalie Paul, Brunswick, ME
Margie Deschene, Grand Falls, ME
Bill Deschene, Grand Falls, ME
David Smith, Belfast, ME
Andrew Watkins, Belfast, ME
Carolyn Pressley, Belfast, ME
Adela R. Hulbert, Belfast, ME
Meredith Bruskin, Swanville, ME
Miriam Watkins, Belfast, ME
Suzanne Fitzgerald, Bar Harbor, ME
Ursula Slavick, Portland, ME
Will Thomas, Auburn, NH
Wendy Thomas, Auburn, NH
Amanda Thomas, Auburn, NH
Juyeon Rhee, Tenafly, NJ
Steve Benson, Surry, ME
Judy Robbins, Sedgwick, ME
Mary Rydingsward, Bristol, CT
Michael Cutting, Portland, ME
Debbie Atwood, Brunswick, ME
Sally Chappell
Sue Davis
Sass Linneken, Winthrop, ME
Eileen Kreutz, Industry, ME
Benjamin d'Haiti, Newburgh, ME
Connie Jenkins
Brian Noyes Pulling, M. Div., SC and ME
Paul Sheridan, Northport, ME
Peter Woodruff
Russell Wray
Peter S. Morgan, Raymond, ME
Kevin Brooks, Old Town, ME
Michael Cutting, Portland, ME
Katharine Winthrop, Portland, ME
Sally Breen, Windham, ME
S.G. Packer, Portland, ME
J. Sproul, Gorham, ME
Tim Paradis, Portland, ME
Wells R. Staley-Mays, Biddeford, ME
Beth Streeter, Portland, ME
Linden Thigpen, South Portland, ME
John W. Cole, South Portland, ME
Lesley MacVine, Falmouth, ME
Nancy Aldrich, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Gail Scott, Portland, ME
Jessica Moore, Portland, ME
Dusan Bjelic, Portland, ME
Joe de Rivera, Brunswick, ME
Glenna Macwilliam, York, ME
Eric Rustad, Bath, ME
Joanne Krejsa, Bath, ME
Sally Trie, Portland, ME
Davida Ammerman, Madison, ME
Douglas Lane, Lewiston, ME
Dianne Burns
Susan Hopkins, Westbrook, ME
Selma Sternlieb, Brunswick, Me
Dixie Searway
Stephen Soucy, Ellsworth ME
Cynthia Howard, Biddeford Pool, ME
Richard Brown Lethem
Jonah Watt, Brunswick, ME

Saturday, February 11, 2017

When The Fire Is Happening, I Have A Responsbility To Say So

Image: Wikipedia Commons "A map of all Superfund sites. The red dots are active sites, and the green dots are clean sites."

Today I continue with the third in a series of posts expanding on the rich discussion between Sherri Mitchell, Rivera Sun and Professor Tom Hastings "War On Earth: Militarism and Environment" linked below (go here to read posts #1 and #2 in my series.)



I was inspired by the testimony of Zumwalt 12 defendant Cynthia Howard, on trial for blocking a public road in front of General Dynamics' weapons of mass destruction plant in Bath, Maine:


I know that my first amendment rights do not extend to yelling "Fire!" in a building, but when the fire is happening, I have a responsibility to say so.

So, where's the fire?

Image from Politico's 2015 article "Where in the World is the U.S. Military?" by David Vine, author of Base Nation

Sherri Mitchell: "Worldwide..there's an incredible amount of land that's under the control of the military. How do we address those issues and try to clean up some of the lands?"

Then there's the problem at home on what were once and in some cases still are Native territories. According to Alexander Nasaryan's 2014 article "The US Department of Defense is one of the world's biggest polluters" in Newsweek

about 900 of the 1200 or so Superfund sites in America are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise support military needs.

The US Department of Defence is one of the world’s worst polluters. Its footprint dwarfs that of any corporation: 4,127 installations spread across 19 million acres of American soil. Maureen Sullivan, who heads the Pentagon’s environmental programmes, says her office contends with 39,000 contaminated sites.

A list of military Superfund sites runs to 142 and is always expanding. Superfund sites are toxic waste locations prioritized for federally funded clean up operations.

The government cannot be relied upon to solve the problem they continue creating. According to Professor Hastings: "It is 100% up to civil society to address." He was part of a coalition that successfully sought an injunction against a military base in Wisconsin that "had a very faulty environmental impact statement... Then it took the Navy about ten minutes to go down to the circuit court in Chicago...to lift the injunction." Hastings reported the Navy's rationale for lifting the injunction consisted of approximately two sentences that amounted to this: national security.

This is an amazingly short sighted view of real security for the future of people residing on our planet. I think in this instance "national security" can be read to mean: securing continued business opportunities for the super wealthy who profit from the manufacture of weapons systems we all pay for.

For example, real security would necessitate cleaning up superfund sites at home and contaminated lands abroad that have been pulverized by missiles made from depleted uranium. Cecile Pineda argues convincingly in Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step that we need not fear nuclear war in our future because it is already upon us

Since the US began slowly killing its own soldiers present at the testing of a nuclear bomb in 1945, radioactive military waste that will outlive you and the next 777 generations of your family has continued to pour into our soil and oceans.


Veterans and their families continue to struggle with health issues that stem from their exposure to toxins decades ago. Mothers in countries the U.S. has bombed with DU continue to bear children with severe birth defects

Still, Hastings remains optimistic about the power of the people to fight polluters in uniform: "Whichever administration is in power, we're still able to do things at the civil society level ... As long as we  continue to build bigger coalitions on the ground, we can win." His view is shared by organizers like Sun and Mitchell, and by groups like Popular Resistance who build coalitions around national health, opposition to militarism, and urgent concern for the environment.

Time to yell "Fire!" yet?