Archive for the ‘Military-Industrial-Complex’ Category

By JC

I’ve been spending far more time reading than writing lately, as writing and nursing blog posts eats up more time than I’m willing to expend. However, I think it time well spent to point folks to articles that begin to make sense of the precarious position our nation or world finds itself in.

So pull up a comfy chair on this grey and dreary spring day (thought the rain is most wonderful), pour a cup of coffee, tea or what have you and dig in.

Today’s reading comes from William R. Polk, Losing the American Republic. Here’s the end of Part 1 (Part 2 hasn’t been published yet, but I’m looking forward to it).

Lessons Needed Learning

It would be rewarding if one could say that our experience in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has made us wiser in our approaches to Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen, but it is hard to substantiate that conclusion. Yet the lessons are there to be learned. There are more, but consider just these few:

  • Military action can destroy but it cannot build;
  • Counterinsurgency does not work and creates new problems;
  • Nation building is beyond the capacity of foreigners;
  • Piecemeal, uncoordinated actions often exacerbate rather than solve problems;
  • The costs of military action are multifold and usually harm not only the attacked but also the attacker’s society and economy;
  • Reliance on military action and supply of weapons to the client state encourages it to undertake actions that make peace-seeking harder rather than easier;
  • War radiates out from the battlefield so that whole societies are turned into refugees. In desperation they flee even far abroad and create unforeseen problems.
  • The sense that the attacker is a bully spreads and converts outsiders into enemies;
  • Failure to understand the society and culture even of the enemy is self-defeating;
  • Angry, resentful people eventually strike back where they can and so create a climate of perpetual insecurity.

The result of such actions is deforming to the central objective of an intelligent, conservative and constructive American foreign policy — the preservation of our well-being.

“Ferguson matters because it provides us with a foretaste of what is to come. It is the shot across the bow, so to speak, a warning that this is how we will all be treated if we do not tread cautiously in challenging the police state, and it won’t matter whether we’re black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat. In the eyes of the corporate state, we are all the enemy.

This is the lesson of Ferguson.”
–John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute

By JC

As usual, the discussion of the police killing of a young man has devolved into a morass of race relationships and retributions opening up old wounds, and feeding deep-seated feelings all the way around. So much of this is predictable, and the protests, riots, and counter-attacks all create pablum for a media more interested in controversy and sound bites for the 24 hour news cycle, than in examining what is happening to our country.

I’ve commented elsewhere on what I thought the grand jury process was all about. Ferguson was a perversion of what grand juries are, and how they should be used. If the prosecutor only wanted somebody to share the responsibility of his decision to not bring charges, he could have just impanelled a coroner’s jury to conclude the officer acted in self-defense. Or he could have just called a press conference and said he didn’t have the evidence to support a prosecution and left it at that.

In any case, what the prosecutor has done is to influence the public’s perception of what a grand jury is all about, allowing it to further be used as a shadowy substitute for real justice. Real justice being to allow for a cross examination of other witnesses, and the introduction of other evidence. The prosecutor used the grand jury in a way that bolstered his decision to not prosecute the police officer – he was a de facto defense attorney for the defendant. There are few that understand the grand jury system that would agree with his tactics.

On to today’s topic. This reading from John Whitehead, “We Are the Enemy: Is This the Lesson of Ferguson?” puts aside the notion that the importance of what happened at Ferguson is just another incident in a long litany of racial oppressions and its inevitable blowback:

However, the greater question—whether anything will really change to rein in militarized police, police shootings, lack of accountability and oversight, and a military industrial complex with a vested interest in turning America into a war zone—remains unanswered.

Yes, we are the enemy… since those first towers fell on 9/11, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.

I chose Whitehead as a way to try and move the Ferguson discussion in a more productive direction. He is a respected, and somewhat conservative civil libertarian with a long record of not playing politics or the race card. I hope folks will read the whole article and think about the greater ramifications of what has happened to our nation, and how the “powers-that-be” continue to profit when the dialogue descends into an unproductive racial diatribe.

I’ll leave folks with one more excerpt, and leave this as an open thread on the greater meaning of the Ferguson debacle. Let’s try and not let this discussion divert into the usual left-right, dem-rep racial garbage that just avoids the real issue: how our country has devolved into one where the police are becoming less and less distinguishable from the military or the national guard, and all our civil liberties are trampled. If we cannot, then we are just reinforcing Whitehead’s message.

Ferguson provided us with an opportunity to engage in a much-needed national dialogue over how police are trained, what authority they are given, what weaponry they are provided, and how they treat those whom they are entrusted with protecting.

Caught up in our personal politics, prejudices and class warfare, we have failed to answer that call. In so doing, we have played right into the hands of all those corporations who profit from turning America into a battlefield by selling the government mine-resistant vehicles, assault rifles, grenade launchers, and drones.

As long as we remain steeped in ignorance, there will be no reform.

As long as we remain divided by our irrational fear of each other, there will be no overhaul in the nation’s law enforcement system or institution of an oversight process whereby communities can ensure that local police departments are acting in accordance with their wishes and values.

And as long as we remain distracted by misguided loyalties to military operatives who are paid to play the part of the government’s henchmen, there will be no saving us when the events of Ferguson unfold in our own backyards.

When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter whose “side” you’re on as far as what transpired in Ferguson, whether you believe that Michael Brown was a victim or that Darren Wilson was justified in shooting first and asking questions later.

What matters is that we not allow politics and deep-rooted prejudices of any sort to divert our efforts to restore some level of safety, sanity and constitutional balance to the role that police officers play in our communities. If we fail to do so, we will have done a disservice to ourselves and every man, woman and child in this country who have become casualties of the American police state.

Amen!

By JC

Well, it was just a matter of time till President Obama revealed his all-encompassing foreign policy statement. Yesterday, speechifying in front of the U.N. General Assembly, Obama made it perfectly clear what his foreign policy consists of:

“We believe that right makes might…”

Uh, um, ok. I think that historians will have a hey-day with that one. And wedged somewhere in-between ebola and ISIL, he manages to paint Russia even further into a corner:

“We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression, and counter falsehoods with the truth. We call upon others to join us on the right side of history…

This speaks to a central question of our global age: whether we will solve our problems together, in a spirit of mutual interests and mutual respect, or whether we descend into destructive rivalries of the past.”

Unfortunately, Obama has lost Putin’s ear. Once upon a time, those of us who grew up in the Cold War 1.0 found cold comfort of the images of the two presidents of the two superpowers chock full of nuclear weapons carrying around brief cases (we called ours “the football”). Our existential anxiety was ameliorated by the new-fangled communication systems, and photos of the red phone at the desk of each president so they could always be in constant contact with each other (except when Yeltsin was too drunk, or Reagan too senile, or Clinton too… “preoccupied”), and ward off any mistaken notions of aggression that could trigger pushing the fatal fateful button.

But in today’s neocon-fueled foreign policy, we have an administration that relies on subversion, propaganda, strong arm tactics and innuendo to convey a sideways message to our counterpart in eurasia. MAD (mutually assured destruction) foreign policy was based on the notion that there were two rational actors on the world stage, and that given the choice between blowing the world up in a flurry of nuclear strikes or talking, the two actors would talk.

Well, those days are long gone, and while both superpowers have embarked each on a trillion dollar fools errand to “modernize” their nuclear weapons systems, it seems that the comforting visage of MAD has gone south, and rational actors have left the scene. It seems that when Obama calls Putin that he is getting shuffled off on voice mail, only to discover that the mailbox is full, as Andy Borowitz reports:

“In what he called “a provocative and defiant act,” President Obama charged on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has started letting his calls go directly to voice mail.”

Sometimes humor is a cruel revealer of what may have come to pass between the world’s superpowers. No longer do we hear of any efforts of diplomacy between Obama and Putin. It is all saber rattling on our side, and disbelief in what an empire in chaos and decline is doing to the “New World Order.” Here’s Henry Kissinger:

“Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis…

But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.”

I guess when the New World Order starts eroding, and Henry Kissinger becomes worried, and President Obama amplifies the Bush Doctrine, then, what is there left to do… besides renew my passport? Duck & Cover?

 




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