No one is saying that ISIS or al Qaeda or any other extremist organizations are a bunch of nice guys, or that they wouldn’t deserve all the terrible things the US military could do to them. The problem is that we’ve been kicking terrorist ass over the world, but in doing so, we’re not pausing for a moment to consider the unintended consequences. In the 1980s, we decided that the enemy of our enemy, the Soviet Union, would make great friends. We handed off hundreds of millions of dollars to arm and train the Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan. We did not fully understand who these fighters were, nor did we fully appreciate or seem to care about the radical social policies they would enact if they won, so long as they could be a pain in the side of the “evil empire.” The problem was that those same fighters included Osama Bin Laden, and future members of the Taliban.
The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest industrial consumer of fossil fuels in the world. It is also the top arms exporter and military spender at $640 billion, which accounts for 37% of the total. Other western countries that are top military spenders like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, have high carbon emissions per capita. Military expenditures are depriving the international community of the funds desperately needed to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. Over the past two decades, the developed countries have provided a paltry $12.5 billion for the Global Environmental Facility, one of the first funding mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC). In ten years, the Adaptation Fund has only disbursed $150 million to help developing countries, which are the most vulnerable and least responsible for climate change. In 2009 at the UNFCCC 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen, developed countries made a commitment to raise $100 billion annually by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund to finance the national adaptation plans for developing countries. This is less than 1% of global annual military expenditures. Yet, wealthy, industrialized countries have failed to make adequate pledges to pay their climate debt.
Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS/IS “cancer,” said President Obama. Yesterday, in his much anticipated address, he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces. “The only way to defeat [IS] is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,” declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.” Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS). Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey testified before the war-friendly Senate Armed Services Committee on September 16, 2014 about the extent of the US military’s role in fighting Islamic. The hearing was interrupted by peace protesters from CODE PINK and Popular Resistance. Non-Profit Quarerly began noting “The hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday morning began with repeated disruptions from antiwar protesters.” They went on to urge more action from the antiwar movement, writing: “History would suggest that it’s time for the antiwar movement to raise important issues about the U.S. plan to deal with ISIL. Maybe this war against ISIL is different; maybe this is an instance where U.S. military action is necessary to stop ISIL, which has now gathered a large military force and deployed it like a professional army. Maybe ISIL can’t be dealt with the way that the U.S. is addressing Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. But it is nevertheless the role of the anti-war movement to engage in and elevate the quality of the debate when American civilian and military leaders contemplate military action overseas.”
How’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news: Cuba to Send Doctors to Ebola Areas  US to Deploy 3000 Troops as Ebola Crisis Worsens  Reading these stories, which ran in, respectively, the BBC and Reuters, one learns that the Cuban government, which runs a small financially hobbled island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of 121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are ebola outbreaks, while the US, the world’s wealthiest nation, with a population of close to 320 million, a national budget of $3.77 trillion, GDP of $17 trillion, and per capita GDP of over $53,000, is sending troops — $3000 of them– to “fight” the ebola epidemic.
Keep Space for Peace Week is a decentralized week of local actions held around the globe to bring the issue of the militarization of space to the public. For the past 13 years the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space has organized the week of actions which include protests at key Space Command bases, space weapons technology production facilities, as well as film showings and public meetings. Space technology now coordinates all US warfare on the planet and increasingly “allied” nations, largely through NATO, are becoming “interoperable” with the US satellite directed war fighting system. This means NATO members buy expensive war fighting technology from the US that is then run through the Pentagon’s space warfare architecture. This gives the US full control of a growing global high-tech military system that ultimately benefits corporate interests. With space technology in place the Pentagon can hear virtually everything on the planet, see everyplace on the planet, and target anyone or anyplace on Earth. The aerospace industry brags that the militarization of space will be the largest industrial program in Earth’s history necessitating major cuts in social spending in order to pay for the project.
An inflatable bomb pressurized with carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen contained in outer shell of silver radiant barrier foil, the carbon bomb was manufactured as part of a research program coordinated by the inflatable fabrication group Tools for Action. Lettering on the side of the bomb read, “US Military: Largest consumer of oil, largest emitter of CO2.” The carbon bomb was transported down the river by a flotilla of canoes midway through a two-week journey traversing the Hudson River down to New York for the upcoming climate mobilization. At West Point, the Sea Change Flotilla was joined by former military service members from Veterans For Peace, who plan to carry the carbon bomb in the Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming contingent at the Peoples Climate March on September 21.
About the guest | Dan Arel is freelance journalist for Alternet and Salon as well as a blogger for The Huffington Post. He writes a column called Danthropology for American Atheists Magazine and is the author of the book Parenting Without God, How to Raise Moral, Ethical and Intelligent Children, Free from Religious Dogma, published byDangerous Little Books About Acronym TV with Dennis Trainor, Jr. | ABOUT ACRONYM TV with Dennis Trainor, Jr. Dennis Trainor, Jr. hosts Acronym TV, a weekly series of dialogue, conversation and debate with the goal of helping viewers sort through these transformative times through the insight of leading activists, artists, journalists, philosophers, scholars, and thinkers. Acronym TV’s growing YouTube subscriber base of 33 thousand has generated over 30 million views, and is part of The Young Turks Network, the largest online news source in the world. Acronym TV, what do you stand for?
Below are views of people whose voices are not often heard in the corporate media but who have worked on issues of militarism and war for many years. We asked people who recognize that war is not the answer to complex foreign policy issues for their views on President Obama’s recent speech declaring war on ISIS. Obama did not use the word “war” as he prefers to explicitly state what is really happening by talking about “air strikes” and “counter terrorism.” In reality his speech was a declaration of war. And, he says it will last three years, which we suspect underestimates the war-quagmire he is beginning. As we have said in previous columns President Obama needs to get (1) authorization for the use of military force from Congress, and (2) authorization from the United Nations before the attack he has announced. He is not pursuing either but instead has taken on the power to send the United States into a new war on his own.
Since 9/11, the United States has launched more than 94,000 air strikes, mostly on Afghanistan and Iraq, but also on Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Rumsfeld’s plan has undoubtedly achieved his goal of changing the way people live in those countries, killing a million of them and reducing tens of millions more to lives of disability, disfigurement, dislocation, grief and poverty. A sophisticated propaganda campaign has politically justified 13 years of systematic U.S. war crimes, exploiting the only too human failing that George Orwell examined in his 1945 essay, “Notes on Nationalism.” As Orwell wrote, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” Orwell listed “torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations,imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians.” The U.S. has committed all these atrocities in the past 13 years, and Americans have responded exactly as the “nationalists” Orwell described.
The United States’ official policy in the Middle East is now perpetual war. What has been known for some time, including by those of us who have served overseas, by the millions who have suffered through our bombs and our bullets, and, of course, by the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been ripped from their families and from any promised futures, President Obama solidified last night. The United States, by agreeing to airstrikes without end in support of a corrupt and sectarian government in Baghdad; by championing a Shia and Kurdish invasion of Sunni lands; and by promising arms, munitions and money to rebel groups in the middle of the Syrian Civil War, the same groups that sold Steven Sotloff to his beheading, has adopted a policy that will exacerbate the civil wars in both Iraq and Syria and deepen the nightmare existence of their people. President Obama’s speech will be remembered as a mark of moral shame on the United States, so very opposite and so very contradictory to the courage shown by the president five years ago in Cairo, Egypt.
Around 1969 as a young boy, I looked-up the definition of the word, evil. I found something like, “Preference and actions for one’s own material wealth over the well-being of others.” I’ve always remembered that definition as the one that made the most sense. I’ve never found it again in more modern dictionaries. In 2007, Stephen Zarlenga (Executive Director, AMI) asked my opinion: “Carl, do you think there’s some kind of ‘slave gene’ that explains people worshipping the very leaders crushing them?” I responded, “Maybe. There’s plenty of consideration that the ‘human animal’ has a fear-reflex and reptilian brain function attracted to hierarchies. We certainly find this fear and system-worship in our work for monetary reform.” Today, considering our human condition, we observe: A nexus of evil among “leading” families in government, money, and corporate media who provably lie for unlawful wars (here, here, here, here), rapacious economics (here, here, here, here), and who use corporate media to “cover” these crimes while speaking to us never above a pre-teen level. Public inability to clearly recognize this evil, take action to stop it, and remember these acts define our “leaders.”
Please join with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, with peacemakers from Pax Christi Metro D.C.- Baltimore and other groups to protest the annual Air Force Association(AFA) “Arms Bazaar.” Please come and bring a friend. And please spread the word and post this wherever you can. The U.S. power structure, backed by weapons contractors participating in the AFA Arms Bazaar, is engaged in direct military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, continues its military support for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, threatens Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine, proceeds with its military “pivot” in the Asia-Pacific to contain and threaten China, and wages unrelenting killer drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The Pentagon is also increasingly militarizing its police forces at home. We urgently need, more than ever, to nonviolently resist all war and violence–from Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza to Ferguson, NYC and D.C., and witness for peace and justice.
While photographing a #FreePalestine rally in NYC on July 15, I ran into many friends. That’s no surprise for me in my hometown but what does stand out is how rarely I ever encounter any of my vegan/animal rights (AR) comrades at such human rights events. Reminder: All our grievances are connected… Please allow me to use the aforementioned Gaza-related rally as an example: $3 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the Israeli military each year with the requirement that 74 percent of that money be used to buy weapons and equipment from U.S. defense (sic) corporations. Translation: If you pay U.S. taxes, you’re culpable. Also, from a more strict AR perspective, do you really think the massive bombardment being imposed upon Gaza only injures and kills humans? Bigger picture: Do you think non-humans are spared in any war? War is unhealthy for all species On Feb. 13-14, 1945, Allied bombers laid siege to the German city of Dresden. Within the target zone was the Dresden Zoo, run by animal trainer Otto Sailer-Jackson. To help understand how deeply embedded speciesism can be, take a moment to ponder the standing Nazi order that if human life was endangered, all carnivores must be shot.