Monday, December 27, 2010

Consequences of US Security State Militarism

December 27, 2010, Building a Culture of Peace, Compiled by Dick Bennett
See other newsletters on US Imperialism in OMNI web site.



While the average living standard in the US has long been declining and unemployment has steadily been on the rise, the PENTAGON continues to spend billions of our tax dollars into a killing, waste, and polluting machine. WAR AND WARMING: Wars not only destroy lives and waste resources, but they push the planet closer to ecological destruction by producing a massive amount of CO2, destroying critical ecosystems, and creating resource scarcity. SECURITY is not unilateral but collective, for our futures are intertwined with the futures of people everywhere, and we must practice mutual respect and sharing. We demand a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the conversion of the billions of dollars now wasted on war-making to meeting urgent civilian needs, including funding of jobs, housing, health care, education, clean energy, and infrastructure repairs. Let us hold our leaders accountable for the ruin of their wars and especially for their war crimes.

WILLIAM BLUM: Here is a sample of Blum’s monthly e-newsletter.

Anti-Empire Report, September 1, 2010

Blum authored Killing Hope and Rogue State that chronicle illegal US aggressions.

James R. Bennett, Control of Information in the United States (1987) and Control of the Media in the United States (1993).


















(see below)

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
-- Aung San Suu Kyi

Undoing the Bush/Cheney [and now Obama] Legacy: A Tool Kit for Congress by Ann Fagan Ginger.


The new Congress has the power -- and the duty -- to repeal or amend all

"laws" put into effect in the Bush Administration that ignore basic U.S. law.

These "laws" run from A to W -- from Agriculture/land/crops to Water

Rights and Welfare Rights. There are so many of these "laws" that each one must be

described briefly in order to make this booklet handy to use -- in making presentations to Congress, to the public, and to the media.

Many of these "laws" are statutes proposed by Bush/Cheney, passed by the

House and Senate, signed by Bush, then funded in the next Bush budget passed by


The basic law ignored in Bush "laws" is found in the U.S. Constitution, particularly

the "promote the general welfare" clause, the Ninth Amendment “protection

of other [...] rights retained by the people,” and in the Bill of Rights. "Bush laws" also

contradict the United Nations Charter articles for promoting human rights and

against war. And they do not enforce the three treaties ratified by the U.S. in 1992 and 1994: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT); the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Under the Constitution, Article IV, clause 2, all of these treaties are "the supreme law

of the land."

Some of Bush "laws" are Executive Orders or Signing Statements by the President

that the new President can immediately strike. To start enforcing the law again,

not "the law" stated by Bush/Cheney, the House and Senate can immediately cut

funding for certain department and commission actions initiated under Bush/Cheney that ignore the law, such as mercenary military forces. This includes projects of NAFTA and NATO based on initernational agreements, not treaties, signed by the President but never ratified by the Senate. The House and Senate can also issue Rules of Construction for the Federal Courts stating that these Executive Orders and Signing Statements shall be construed as the House and Senate now set forth.

The House and Senate can pass resolutions stating that the Constitution established

a three-branch government, not a unitary Presidency, and that Executive

privilege has limits, so the Signing Statements by Pres. Bush are not relevant after January 20, 2009.

This 100-page booklet seeks to describe every statute, agreement, and department

or commission regulation that ignores basic U.S. law and should be immediately

repealed, amended, unfunded, stricken from the books.

Each page describes one such "law" and gives:

_ Name of Bush/Cheney "law."

_ One example of how this "law" has been used to deny or ignore the rights of people

under the jurisdiction of the U.S. in the 50 states, in U.S. territories or anywhere

in the world.

_ Brief description of "law."

_ Citation to the “law.”

_ List of provisions of the U.S. Constitution, and ratified treaties that this Bush/

Cheney "law" ignores.

_ Citations to any bill proposed in the House or Senate to amend or repeal this "law"

prior to November, 2008.

_ Citation to any "law" upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court that can now be repealed

or amended by the new House and Senate.

_ Sources for each report and relevant websites. Many were found in the 3 charges

in Congress member Dennis Kucinich’s impeachment charges against Vice President

Dick Cheney and his 35 impeachment charges against President George

Bush, and in the voting records of the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive

Caucus Barbara Lee (D-Cal) and the Chair of he Senate Judiciary Committee Ted

Kennedy (D-Mass).

Rule by fear or rule by law?

Lewis Seiler,Dan Hamburg, Monday, February 4, 2008, SFGate.coi.

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."

- Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.

According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."

Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to taxpayer-gouging Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of "new programs" require the construction and refurbishment of detention facilities in nearly every state of the union with the capacity to house perhaps millions of people?

Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," gives the executive the power to invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is now authorized to use the military in response to "a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order."

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies. The law calls for secret trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.

Also in 2007, the White House quietly issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), to ensure "continuity of government" in the event of what the document vaguely calls a "catastrophic emergency." Should the president determine that such an emergency has occurred, he and he alone is empowered to do whatever he deems necessary to ensure "continuity of government." This could include everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack. Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on NSPD-51.

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County) has come up with a new way to expand the domestic "war on terror." Her Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR1955), which passed the House by the lopsided vote of 404-6, would set up a commission to "examine and report upon the facts and causes" of so-called violent radicalism and extremist ideology, then make legislative recommendations on combatting it.

According to commentary in the Baltimore Sun, Rep. Harman and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle believe the country faces a native brand of terrorism, and needs a commission with sweeping investigative power to combat it.

A clue as to where Harman's commission might be aiming is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that labels those who "engage in sit-ins, civil disobedience, trespass, or any other crime in the name of animal rights" as terrorists. Other groups in the crosshairs could be anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, environmentalists, peace demonstrators, Second Amendment rights supporters ... the list goes on and on. According to author Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center holds the names of roughly 775,000 "terror suspects" with the number increasing by 20,000 per month.

What could the government be contemplating that leads it to make contingency plans to detain without recourse millions of its own citizens?

The Constitution does not allow the executive to have unchecked power under any circumstances. The people must not allow the president to use the war on terrorism to rule by fear instead of by law.

Lewis Seiler is the president of Voice of the Environment, Inc. Dan Hamburg, a former congressman from Mendocino County, is executive director.

This article appeared on page B - 7 of the San?Francisco?Chronicle


Sent: Monday, May 21,

Subject: USA: We're # 1!

We're # 1!
A Nation of Firsts Arms the World
By Frida Berrigan

They don't call us the sole superpower for nothing. Paul Wolfowitz might be looking for a new job right now, but the term he used to describe the pervasiveness of U.S. might back when he was a mere deputy secretary of defense -- hyperpower -- still fits the bill.

Face it, the United States is a proud nation of firsts. Among them:

First in Oil Consumption:

The United States burns up 20.7 million barrels per day, the equivalent of the oil consumption of China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and India combined.

First in Carbon Dioxide Emissions:

Each year, world polluters pump 24,126,416,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment. The United States and its territories are responsible for 5.8 billion metric tons of this, more than China (3.3 billion), Russia (1.4 billion) and India (1.2 billion) combined.

First in External Debt:

The United States owes $10.040 trillion, nearly a quarter of the global debt total of $44 trillion.

First in Military Expenditures:

The White House has requested $481 billion for the Department of Defense for 2008, but this huge figure does not come close to representing total U.S. military expenditures projected for the coming year. To get a sense of the resources allocated to the military, the costs of the global war on terrorism, of the building, refurbishing, or maintaining of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and other expenses also need to be factored in. Military analyst Winslow Wheeler did the math recently: "Add $142 billion to cover the anticipated costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; add $17 billion requested for nuclear weapons costs in the Department of Energy; add another $5 billion for miscellaneous defense costs in other agencies…. and you get a grand total of $647 billion for 2008."

Taking another approach to the use of U.S. resources, Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Business School lecturer Linda Bilmes added to known costs of the war in Iraq invisible costs like its impact on global oil prices as well as the long-term cost of health care for wounded veterans and came up with a price tag of between 1 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

If we turned what the United States will spend on the military in 2008 into small bills, we could give each one of the world's more than 1 billion teenagers and young adults an Xbox 360 with wireless controller (power supply in remote rural areas not included) and two video games to play: maybe Gears of War and Command and Conquer would be appropriate. But if we're committed to fighting obesity, maybe Dance Dance Revolution would be a better bet. The United States alone spends what the rest of the world combined devotes to military expenditures.

First in Weapons Sales:

Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have normally totaled between $10 and $13 billion. That's a lot of weapons, but in fiscal year 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion. It almost goes without saying that this is significantly more than any other nation in the world.

In this gold-medal tally of firsts, there can be no question that things that go bang in the night are our proudest products. No one makes more of them or sells them more effectively than we do. When it comes to the sorts of firsts that once went with a classic civilian manufacturing base, however, gold medals are in short supply. To take an example:

Not First in Automobiles:

Once, Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford ruled the domestic and global roost, setting the standard for the automotive industry. Not any more. In 2006, the U.S. imported almost $150 billion more in vehicles and auto parts than it sent abroad. Automotive analyst Joe Barker told the Boston Globe, "it's a very tough environment" for the so-called Detroit Three. "In times of softening demand, consumers typically will look to brands that they trust and rely on. Consumers trust and rely on Japanese brands."

Not Even First in Bulk Goods:

The Department of Commerce recently announced total March exports of $126.2 billion and total imports of $190.1 billion, resulting in a goods and services deficit of $63.9 billion. This is a $6 billion increase over February.

But why be gloomy? Stick with arms sales and it's dawn in America every day of the year. Sometimes, the weapons industry pretends that it's like any other trade -- especially when it's pushing our congressional representatives (as it always does) for fewer restrictions and regulations. But don't be fooled. Arms aren't automobiles or refrigerators. They're sui generis; they are the way the USA can always be number one -- and everyone wants them. The odds that, in your lifetime, there will ever be a $128 billion trade deficit in weapons are essentially nil.

Arms are our real gold-medal event.

First in Sales of Surface-to-Air Missiles:

Between 2001 and 2005, the United States delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles to nations in the developing world, 20% more than Russia, the next largest supplier.

First in Sales of Military Ships:

During that same period, the U.S. sent 10 "major surface combatants" like aircraft carriers and destroyers to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped thirteen. (And we were first in the anti-ship missiles that go along with such ships, with nearly double (338) the exports of the next largest supplier Russia (180).

First in Military Training:

A thoughtful empire knows that it is not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

First in Private Military Personnel:

According to bestselling author Jeremy Scahill, there are at least 126,000 private military personnel deployed alongside uniformed military personnel in Iraq alone. Of the more than sixty major companies that supply such personnel worldwide, more than 40 are U.S. based.

Rest assured, governments around the world, often at each others' throats, will want U.S. weapons long after their people have turned up their noses at a range of once dominant American consumer goods.

Just a few days ago, for instance, the "trade" publication Defense News reported that Turkey and the United States signed a $1.78 billion deal for Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter planes. As it happens, these planes are already ubiquitous -- Israel flies them, so does the United Arab Emirates, Poland, South Korea, Venezuela, Oman and Portugal, not to speak of most other modern air forces. In many ways, F-16 is not just a high-tech fighter jet, it's also a symbol of U.S. backing and friendship. Buying our weaponry is one of the few ways you can actually join the American imperial project!

In order to remain number one in the competitive jet field, Lockheed Martin, for example, does far more than just sell airplanes. TAI -- Turkey's aerospace corporation -- will receive a boost with this sale, because Lockheed Martin is handing over responsibility for parts of production, assembly, and testing to Turkish workers. The Turkish Air Force already has 215 F-16 fighter planes and plans to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well, in a deal estimated at $10.7 billion over the next 15 years.

$10.7 billion on fighter planes for a country that ranks 94th on the United Nations' Human Development Index, below Lebanon, Colombia, and Grenada, and far below all the European nations that Ankara is courting as it seeks to join the European Union -- now that's a real American sales job for you!

Here's the strange thing, though: This genuine, gold-medal manufacturing-and-sales job on weapons simply never gets the attention it deserves. As a result, most Americans have no idea how proud they should be of our weapons manufacturers and the Pentagon -- essentially our global sales force -- that makes sure our weapons travel the planet and regularly demonstrates their value in small wars from Latin America to Central Asia.

Of course, there's tons of data on the weapons trade, but who knows about any of it? I'm typical here. I help produce one of a dozen or so sober annual (or semi-annual) reports quantifying the business of war-making. In my case: the Arms Trade Resource Center report, U.S. Weapons at War: Fueling Conflict or Promoting Freedom? These reports get desultory, obligatory press attention -- but only once in a blue moon do they get the sort of full-court-press treatment that befits our number one product line.

Dense collections of facts, percentages, and comparisons don't seem to fit particularly well into the usual patchwork of front-page stories. And yet the mainstream press is a glory ride, compared to the TV News, which hardly acknowledges most of the time that the weapons business even exists.

In any case, that inside-the-fold, fact-heavy, wonky news story on the arms trade, however useful, can't possibly convey the gold-medal feel of a business that has always preferred the shadows to the sun. No reader checking out such a piece is going to feel much -- except maybe overwhelmed by facts. The connection between the factory that makes a weapons system and the community where that weapon "does its duty" is invariably missing-in-action, as are the relationships among the companies making the weapons and the generals (on-duty and retired) and politicians making the deals, or raking in their own cut of the profits for themselves and/or their constituencies. In other words, our most successful (and most deadly) export remains our most invisible one.

Maybe the only way to break through this paralysis of analysis would be to stop talking about weapons exports as a trade at all. Maybe we shouldn't be using economic language to describe it. Yes, the weapons industry has associations, lobby groups, and trade shows. They have the same tri-fold exhibits, scale models, and picked-over buffets as any other industry; still, maybe we have to stop thinking about the export of fighter planes and precision-guided missiles as if they were so many widgets and start thinking about them in another language entirely -- the language of drugs.

After all, what does a drug dealer do? He creates a need and then fills it. He encourages an appetite or (even more lucratively) an addiction and then feeds it.

Arms dealers do the same thing. They suggest to foreign officials that their military just might need a slight upgrade. After all, they'll point out, haven't you noticed that your neighbor just upgraded in jets, submarines, and tanks? And didn't you guys fight a war a few years back? Doesn't that make you feel insecure? And why feel insecure for another moment when, for just a few billion bucks, we'll get you suited up with the latest model military… even better than what we sold them -- or you the last time around.

Why does Turkey, which already has 215 fighter planes, need 100 extras in an even higher-tech version? It doesn't… but Lockheed Martin, working the Pentagon, made them think they did.

We don't need stronger arms control laws, we need a global sobriety coach -- and some kind of 12-step program for the dealer-nation as well.

Frida Berrigan is a Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center. Copyright 2007 Frida Berrigan


Original Content at


August 6, 2008

The prophetic challenge: "Few are guilty, but all are responsible"

By Robert Jensen

One of the common refrains I heard from progressive people in Pakistan and India during my month there this summer was, “We love the American people -- it’s the policies of your government we don’t like.”

That sentiment is not unusual in the developing world, and such statements can reduce the tension with some Americans when people criticize U.S. policy, which is more common than ever after the illegal invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

I used to smile and nod when I heard it, but this summer I stopped agreeing.

“You shouldn’t love the American people,” I started saying. “You should hate us -- we’re the enemy.”

By that I don’t mean that most Americans are trying to come up with new ways to attack people in the Global South. Instead, I want to challenge the notion that in a relatively open society such as the United States -- where most people can claim extensive guarantees of freedom of expression and political association -- that the problem is leaders and not ordinary citizens. Whatever the reason people in other countries repeat this statement, the stakes today are too high for those of us in the United States to accept these kinds of reassuring platitudes about hating-the-policy but loving-the-people of an imperial state. It is long past time that we the people of the United States started holding ourselves responsible for the crimes our government perpetrates around the world.

This is our prophetic challenge, in the tradition of the best of the prophets of the past, who had the courage to name the injustice in a society and demand a reckoning.

In the Christian and Jewish traditions, the Old Testament offers us many models -- Amos and Hosea, Jeremiah and Isaiah. The prophets condemned corrupt leaders but also called out all those privileged people in society who had turned from the demands of justice that the faith makes central to human life. In his study of The Prophets, the scholar and activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel concluded:

Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or affected by the spirit of society, an individual’s crime discloses society’s corruption. In a community not indifferent to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be infrequent rather than common.[1]

In our society, crimes by leaders are far too common. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as individuals, are guilty of their crime against peace and war crimes in Iraq that have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands, just as Bill Clinton and Al Gore before them are guilty of the crime against humanity perpetrated through an economic embargo on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocents as well. These men are guilty, beyond any doubt, and they should be held accountable. But would those kinds of crimes be as frequent if the spirit of society were different? For that, we all are responsible.

In assessing that responsibility, we have to be careful about simplistic judgments, for the degree of responsibility depends on privilege and power. In my case, I’m white and male, educated, with easy access to information, working in a professional job with a comfortable income and considerable freedom. People such as me, with the greatest privilege, bear greatest responsibility. But no one escapes responsibility living in an imperial state with the barbaric record of the United States (in my lifetime, we could start with the list of unjust U.S. wars, direct and through proxies, against the people of Latin America, southern Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, resulting in millions of victims). Bush and Clinton couldn’t carry out their crimes in this relatively open and democratic society if we did not allow it.

To increase the chance that we can stop those crimes, we also have to be precise about the roadblocks that keep people from acting responsibly: A nominally democratic political system dominated by elites who serve primarily the wealthy in a predatory corporate capitalist system; which utilizes sophisticated propaganda techniques that have been effective in undermining real democracy; aided by mass-media industries dedicated to selling diversions to consumers more than to helping inform citizens in ways that encourage meaningful political action.

We must hold ourselves and each other accountable, with a realistic analysis not only of how we have ended up in this dire situation but also a reasonable assessment of how different people react to the spirit of our society.

Some in the United States celebrate this unjust system and seek to enrich themselves in it; they deserve the harshest critique and condemnation. Many others simply move with the prevailing winds, taking their place in the hierarchy without much thought and little challenge; they should be challenged to rise above their willed ignorance and passivity. Some others resist, through political organizing or in quieter ways; they should be commended, with the recognition that whatever they have done it hasn’t been enough to end the nation’s imperial crimes. And we must remember that there are people in the United States suffering under such oppressive conditions that they constitute a kind of internal Third World, targeted as much as the most vulnerable people abroad.

Of course those are crudely drawn categories that don’t capture the complexity of our lives. But we should draw them to remind ourselves: Those of us with privilege are responsible in some way. If we want to speak in a prophetic voice, as I believe we all can and should, we must start with an honest assessment of ourselves and those closest to us. For example, I consider myself part of the anti-empire/anti-war movement, and for the past decade I have spent considerable energy on those efforts. But I can see many ways in which I could have done more, and could do more today, in more effective fashion. We need not have delusions of grandeur about what we can accomplish, but we do need to avoid a self-satisfied complacency.

kind of complacency is far too easy for those of us living in the most affluent nation in the history of the world. For those of us with privilege, political activism typically comes with very few costs. We work, and often work hard, for justice but when the day is done many of us come home to basic comforts that most people in the world can only dream of. Those comforts are made possible by the very empire we are committed to ending.

Does this seem hard to face? Does it spark a twinge of guilt in you? I hope that it does. Here we can distinguish the guilt of those committing the crimes -- the formal kind of guilt of folks such as Bush and Clinton -- from the way in which a vaguer sense of guilt reminds us that we may not be living up to our own principles. That kind of guilty feeling is not a bad thing, if we have not done things that are morally required. If there is a gap between our stated values and our actions -- as there almost surely is for all of us, in varying ways to varying degrees -- then such a feeling of guilt is an appropriate moral reaction. Guilt of that kind is healthy if we face it honestly and use it to strengthen our commitment to justice.

This is our fate living in the empire. We must hold ourselves and each other accountable, while knowing that the powerful systems in place are not going to change overnight simply because we have good arguments and are well-intentioned. We must ask ourselves why we don’t do more, while recognizing that none of us can ever do enough. We must be harsh on ourselves and each other, while retaining a loving connection to self and others, for without that love there is no hope.

People often say this kind of individual and collective self-assessment is too hard, too depressing. Perhaps, but it is the path we must walk if we wish to hold onto our humanity. As Heschel put it, “the prophets endure and can only be ignored at the risk of our own despair.”[2] To contemplate these harsh realities is not to give in to despair, but to make it possible to resist.

If we wish to find our prophetic voice, we must have the courage to speak about the crimes of our leaders and also look at ourselves honestly in the mirror. That requires not just courage but humility. It is in that balance of a righteous anger and rigorous self-reflection that we find not just the strength to go on fighting but also the reason to go on living.


[1] Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 16.

[2] Ibid., p. xiii.

Authors Website:

Authors Bio: Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). Jensen is also the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City Lights Books); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at

CONTROL OF LANGUAGE, EXAMPLE: Omission/suppression of Agency and Euphemism

The New York Times (2-25-07) offered a front page picture story of two wounded veterans of the Iraq war, both shot through the head by a sniper, returned home one to a wife and the other to a mother. It’s an affecting story. But the headline is troubling. “Lives Touched by War.” No, it should be: “Lives Severely Damages by the illegal U.S. Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.” This headline is deceptive in at least two ways. It suppresses the agency of this war. It wasn’t just any war, but an illegal war by the soldiers’ own nation that sent them into danger. And it employs a euphemism for severe wounds; they were certainly more than “touched,” but horribly and permanently damaged.

Cindy Sheehan | “Don't Go, Don't Kill!”

Cindy Sheehan, Open Mike Blog

Cindy Sheehan: "I want to bang my head against a wall when another young gay person commits suicide as a result of despicable bullying, yet people within the same community have fought hard for the right to openly join the biggest bully ever! Don't go, don't kill!"







CORPORATE Greenwashing, scamming












· Bryan Farrell

The Green Zone: a book review and author interview
Saturday, June 20, 2009

Published by The Indypendent

As we have become more aware of our effect on the planet and its climate, many average Americans have taken steps toward a greener lifestyle. The Nature Conservancy conducted a poll a few months ago that found 53 percent of those surveyed engage in small actions like recycling, using green household products, and bringing reusable bags to stores. Perhaps, however, what is more revealing is the poll also found that nearly three quarters of respondents believe their personal actions are significant to the health of the environment.

Enter the buzzkill that is Barry Sanders’ new book, The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, in which he delivers a wake-up call to the green movement. Simply put, the solution is not in the hands of the people — at least not their literal pair of hands. But it is also not, as most of us might believe it to be, in the hands of the largest corporations. Sanders’ book brings into the environmental discussion a “new” player. One that its environmental influence has yet to be seriously examined: the U.S. military. As the book presents it: “… ironically, that greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from one agency, that one agency in business to protect us from our enemies, the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Sanders, a retired English and History of Ideas professor at Pitzer College in California, isn’t out to condemn the efforts of ordinary people. Most of his published works — including eleven other books on subjects as seemingly disparate as racism, laughter, and literacy — defend the average person from the degrading control of hierarchical systems. The way Sanders views the current state of the environment is no different. To him, “Citizens look like patron saints of the environment compared with the rampant destruction that the military causes.”

In order to make his case, Sanders presents an overwhelmingly fact-driven argument, listing various types of military equipment, their fuel source, and how much gets used. At first, it’s hard to see many of these details being of interest to anyone other than military buffs. But when Sanders manages to provide recognizable points of comparison, the numbers become quite damning.

For instance, even though we Americans consume on average 1.3 gallons of oil a day, deployed soldiers in 2007 burned about twelve times that amount, at approximately 15 gallons a day. It’s through this relation that we can begin to understand how the military is the world’s greatest consumer of not just petroleum, but energy, in general.

As bad as it is, however, the Pentagon’s figures don’t even come close to telling the whole story. As Sanders explains, “The DoD provides no official accounting for the amount of oil the military consumes in garrisons and bases abroad.” We don’t even know the exact number of bases — although some experts place the figure at slightly more than 800. Even so, there’s no doubting, at least according to what little information the Pentagon does supply, that it is the world’s largest landlord.

Furthermore, the Pentagon doesn’t count fuel that the military obtains for free — such as the likely great amount it receives from Kuwait — or the fuel consumed by the thousands of independent contractors, who lease, make or do things for the military. You can also forget about knowing how much energy it takes to rebuild countries like Iraq. The amount of unknown information and points of energy consumption go on and on.

Sanders puts it bluntly when he says, “As taxpayers we own stock in a nefarious corporation that cooks its books until they are well done.” Yet even he laments the fact that the military isn’t a corporation. If it were, then perhaps such behavior would be grounds for legal action, government intervention or consumer boycott. But none of the regular rules apply here.

Again, it would seem there’s little place for the average person to make a difference. But that’s where Sanders attempts to bring it back around. He suggests a number of well-meaning ideas for those of us who want to see restrictions placed on the military. Some — such as tax resistance — are radical, but wholly pragmatic steps that cut right to the heart of the issue: an increasing Pentagon budget. While others, such as the establishment of an education program that teaches about military pollution, are more long-term oriented. Sadly, neither seem like steps that the mass American public — too busy with the fad that is the green revolution — would find inviting.

If The Green Zone is short on viable solutions, Sanders needn’t be blamed. This is, after all, the first book to examine the relationship between militarism and ecological destruction — something not even Nobel Prize Laureate Al Gore has been willing to address. Sanders has commendably begun a much needed dialogue.

Let’s just hope that those Americans who believe their personal actions are significant are willing to be put to the test.


The Indypendent’s Bryan Farrell asks his questions about The Green Zone and what should be done directly to the author, Barry Sanders.

Bryan Farrell: Right off the bat, in the introduction to your book, you say the largest source of pollution in the world is the military, particularly the military at war. What do you say to young people, many of whom are not as strongly opposing the wars as they are global warming and other environmental crisis?

Barry Sanders: I want them to see that they’re the same issue. It’s not going to make much difference what kind of soap you’re using or if your hand towel is recycled. If the military is laying out acres and acres of depleted uranium half way across the world, it’s going to find its way back here. Every time I talk that way, it comes as a surprise to students. We’re taught that every little bit helps. You give some money to a charity and it helps. But every little bit is not going to help when there’s a monster out there. I want to bust these categories and say, “No, it’s not about the military. It’s not about the environment. It’s about everything.”

BF: What about the military’s efforts to become more sustainable? For instance, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada houses the world’s largest solar photovoltaic system and the Navy runs the largest wind/diesel hybrid plant in the world located in Guantánamo Bay.

BS: There is a line in the book about how that basically means killing people with more efficiency. That doesn’t seem to me like something to rejoice about. When I was a kid I loved magic. Once you’re a fan of magic you learn that if the magician is showing you his right hand you ought to keep your eyes on the left hand. So I know that if the military is telling me to look at how clean this hand is, I need to look at the other hand. And that other hand is bound to be filthy with oil and blood. So I don’t want to look the other way. I want to look dead on at the military itself and what it’s doing. Not at the small little hybrid recommendations.

BF: There’s also the nihilist argument that even if the United States scales back it’s military, there are still other countries like China with large military divisions. Would it really make a difference?

BS: Those other countries would not be using their military [if the United States scaled back]. Korea would not have a missile system. Neither would India or Pakistan, if we didn’t show the way. We have a military budget that’s larger than every other military combined in the world. What would the world be like if we took a risk. What would the world be like if we scaled down and said to people that we’re the military everyone’s been afraid of. We’ve been the policemen of the world for so long. My own personal notion is that war is obsolete and that Earth has made it obsolete. There is a price to pay if you want to continue the way that we’re continuing and that is the price of the earth.

BF: People in so-called “developing countries” will clearly be paying the price first, while instability in those countries is likely to increase. Is there a possibility, therefore, that the military actually stands to benefit from global warming, perhaps by serving as protectors against food riots and climate refugees?

BS: I won’t go as far as to say that the military rejoices in its participation in global warming. But I will say that I do think the real war is yet to come and it’s going to be over resources. When millions of Africans moving north are looking for water and looking for food we’re going to protect our own interests. We’re going to become much more singular than how we need to be in the world, which is communitarian. I know the military is aware of this because they’re meeting about it and they’re talking about it. I think they will welcome such a war because it will have full support from this country. I don’t think that it is far fetched. They’re planning for it now.

BF: In the book you discuss tax resistance as a way individuals can take action. Why do you think tax resistance can be an effective method of protest? What else can be done?

BS: Johnson levied a telephone tax of 10 percent on people’s phone bills to support the war in Vietnam and lots of people protested and refused to pay it. That sort of thing may be necessary now. My lessons are mostly from the ’60s with organizations like SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] and I think there’s a great deal of organizing that has to go on before there will be any kind of change. There will have to be a march on Washington that’s 15 times as big as the march against the war in Vietnam in 1965 where 250,000 people showed up or the march on Washington in 1963 for civil rights where 200,000 showed up. The antiwar movement also has to change to the no war movement. It’s not enough to be opposed to just this war.

1. The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism ...

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2. Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism :: AK Press

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See: Climate Change Refugees

--The Long Thaw, David Archer. How Humans are Changing the next 100,000 years of Earth's Climmate. Read the Complete Story

--Dauvergne, Peter. The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment. MIT P, 2009. The shadows of consumption that modern life casts, from the consumption of beef to the use of cars and fridges.

--Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats. Interv. Democracy Now ( ? ). Basic fact: planet warming. A 1 percent rise in temp will produce 10 percent reduction in food. Without drastic reduction in C02 the planet will heat 4 degrees by 2060. So Dyer recommends geoengineering (SRM: Solar Radiation Management) to give us time.. In contrast, Vandana Shiva (Soil Not Oil) urges drastic changes in economic system esp.from corporate to small agriculture. She urges agreement to Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Earth. Pentagon already has plans for warming wars over food and water. For example, because Turkey is controlling the Tigris and Euphrates at their sources, Iraq would be at war with Turkey were not Iraq so dysfunctional. The US Quadrennial Defense Review 2010 is the first QDR to evaluate warming’s threat to US security. That is, the Bush admin. denied climate change while militarily preparing for it. See OMNI ecology refugees: Mexican and Central American refugees to increase, so the likelihood of a Soviet Berlin Wall across the US/Mex border is increasing

--Hester, Randolph. Design for Ecological Democracy. MIT P, 2009. Success stories for all who would build more beautiful, sustainable, and just communities.

--Knechtel, John, ed. Air. MIT P, 2010. Writers, artists, and scholars consider the fragility of air, the ultimate commons.

--Mastrandrea, Michael and Stephen Schneider. Preparing for Climate Change. MIT P, 2010. We should prepare now by actions in vulnerable regions.

--McMinn, Lisa G and Megan Anna Neff. Walking Gently on the Earth. IVP Books, 2010. Rev. YES! Winter 2011. “a ‘primer’ for Christians on environmental issues”: in addition to global warming: agri practices, food and consumer choices, energy consumption, family planning, US food subsidies, etc.

--Chris Mooney. The Republican War on Science. Basic Books, 2006. Charges Pres. Bush, conservative Christians (stem cells, evolution, abortion), advocates of free enterprise, some corporations (opponents of environ. regulations that reduce profits), and others of the denial and abuse of science.

--Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway. How a handful of Scientists obscured the truth on issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Another of the many books affirming the science of climate change. They demonstrate that the “debate” over the climate crisis and many other environmental issues was manufactured by the same people who brought you “safe” cigarettes. A well-documented account of how political and profit motives can hijack the scientific process by which scientific information is disseminated to the public. Read the Complete Story

-- Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse. 2009., David Orr. An eloquent assessment of climate destabilization and an urgent call to action. Read the Complete Story

--Romm, Joe. Straight Up. 2010. A good summary of recent major scientific papers on climate change by Joe Romm:

--Morrison, David. “The Storms over Climate Change.” Rev. of 3 books: Hansen’s Storm of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrope….; Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport; and Oreskes and Conway’s Merchants of Doubt, in Skeptical Inquirer (Nov.-Dec. 2010).

--Moore, Kathleen and Michael Nelson, eds. Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril. Trinity UP, 2010. Over 80 visionaries discuss our moral obligation to defend against climate change, species endangerment, and environmental degradation.

--Orr, David. Down to the Wire:

--The Climate War, Eric Pooley. "A riveting tale, the very first account of the epic American Campaign to get serious about global warming." Pres. Bill Clinton

Read the Complete Story

--Volk, Tyler. CO2 Rising: The World’s Greatest Environmental Challenge. MIT P, 2009.

--Ward, Peter. The Flooded Earth; Our Future in a World without Ice Caps. 2010.

More books (some repetition, Dick)

--Berry, Thomas. The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth. Orbis, 2009. Brief Rev. Fellowship (Fall 2009). Also author of The Sacred Universe.

--Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats. Inter. Democracy Now (7-8=10).

--Goodell, Jeff. How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate.

--Mark Hertsgaard’s book about climate change adaptation, Houghton Mifflin, 2010, Generation Hot: Living Through the Storm of Climate Change.

--Klare, Michael. Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy. See below for reviews.

--Lappe, Anna. Diet for a Hot Planet.

--McKibben, Bill. Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet. Times Books, 2010. Profligate human behavior over the past 200 years has changed the planet from Earth to Eaarth, a drastically altered environment.

--Oreskes, Naomi and Erik Conway. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Bloomsbury, 2010.

--: Science as a Contact Sport-Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate by Stephen Schneider . In the 1970’s he became editor of the new Journal Climate Change

--Shiva, Vandana. Soil Not Oil. Interv. Democracy Now (7-8-10).

--Wapner, Paul. Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism. MIT P, 2010. What nature means and other themes bearing on the choices ahead of us.

--Ward, Peter. The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps Also, he has written: Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future.

--Wilson, E. O. Anthill, a Novel. Norton, 2010. Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer weaves together the viewpoints of ants, developers, and environmentalists through the story of young boy from Alabama who tries to save his beloved forest.

----Collectif Argos. Climate Refugees. MIT P, 2010. Orig. ed. In French , Refugies climatiques, 2007, and most of the data comes from the 4th IPCC Report of 2007 . Stories and pictures document the phenomenon of populations displaced by climate change—homes, neighborhoods, livelihoods, and cultures lost. The Inupiaq of Shishmaref on the northwest coast of Alaska must move, as “Alaska is getting warmer at an ever-quickening rate, with one of the fastest rising temperatures in the world.” The inhabitants of flat southwest Bangladesh face increasing floods from glacial melt, heavier monsoon rains, and the rising Bay of Bengal, which acts as a brake on river flows and increases the salinity of the soil. .Lake Chad has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometers to just 2,500, and now touches only two of its original four countries. Other areas threatened by warming discussed in the book: Maldives in Indian Ocean; northeast Germany along the North Sea; desertification in China west of Beijing; Polynesian Tuvalu; Nepal. An important issue mentioned several times is the need to broaden the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) restrictive definition of refugees to include persons displaced by global warming. “The time has come for political leaders and economic players worldwide to follow the lead of IPCC scientists and organize an international effort, one not limited to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions but one that immediately begins planning for the mass migrations of climate refugees that will mark the 21st century.” (p. 16).


Dick Bennett
STOP Wars and Warming:
My blog:
(479) 442-4600
2582 Jimmie Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72703

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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)