Military Spending is Killing Us
Graham Nash lamented in song in 1971, "Military madness is killing my country.”
A timely rewrite would be "Military madness is killing the planet.”
Why is there always money for occupation, war, and destruction, but never for healing?
As joyful as so many were when a moderate president, Joe Biden, replaced a vile, extremist, twice-impeached president, how could we not cringe when Biden fist-bumped the Saudi prince complicit in the torture and death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/us/politics/jamal-khashoggi-killing-cia-report.html, and under whose reign a young woman, whose only offense was tweeting about women’s rights being trounced in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to 34 years in prison https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/16/saudi-woman-given-34-year-prison-sentence-for-using-twitter.
If our American political values were truly about freedom of the press, democracy, and human rights, the US government would not be supporting regimes that imprison and murder journalists who expose the injustices and horrific consequences of their government’s military actions and policies. Nor would the US government condone similar consequences for American citizens.
The US government’s arms deals with the Saudi government spawned an intractable political, military, and humanitarian disaster in Yemen. This war has contributed to the climate emergency and resulted in famine affecting 17 million people, nearly a million cholera deaths and thousands of children killed or injured. We should be as outraged about this as we are about the crazed and monstrous actions of Vladimir Putin.
And why do we not blink an eye when the US government gives billions yearly to subsidize the Israeli army which is complicit in the murder of journalists who shine a light on apartheid in Palestine and the killing and suffering of the Palestinian people https://theintercept.com/2022/09/20/shireen-abu-akleh-killing-israel/?
Sustaining military bases all over the world, ignoring the warning of former CIA director Robert Gates, (See Robert Gates, University of Virginia, Miller Center Oral History, George H.W. Bush Presidency, July 24, 2000, p. 101)about pressing ahead to expand NATO, and the unfettered militaristic foreign policy of the US and other nations all have spawned hardship, disease, famine, and death.
Shortsighted foreign policies and out of control global military spending contribute exponentially, egregiously to the climate crisis.
In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky https://truthout.org/articles/noam-chomsky-and-robert-pollin-humanitys-fate-isnt-sealed-if-we-act-now/ warned about the vicious cycle of the climate crisis engendering conflicts. He reminded us "we’ve already witnessed Syria and Darfur where migrations, caused by unprecedented droughts, provided a large part of the background for the horrors that ensued.”
In Pakistan where one third of the country is under water and India where people are trying to survive in huts at 122-degree temperatures, governing authorities continue to pour resources into an arms race which can only result in more destruction and death.
The same scenario plays out everywhere at the local level here in the United States. In Jackson, Mississippi where horrific floods overwhelmed the city, those in authority – white Republicans – who run the state had systematically ignored the pleas of the majority-Black, Democratic-led city for investment in essential infrastructure.
It’s time that local and world leaders, kept in power by funding from self-serving, shortsighted billionaires, realize that their wars and policies are killing the planet. (Spoiler: it’s your grandchildren too.)
But is it naive to think that the defense industry and the fossil-fuel industry will ever be satisfied in their frenzy to keep nations at odds and perpetually enrich themselves by arming the world and stoking the demand for oil, or that the gun manufacturers that put US citizens at war with one other will ever decide they’ve sold enough assault rifles?
It’s time that communities invest in their own infrastructure, healing, and education rather than militarizing police departments and legislating to enable more harm and hardship.
Let us not allow the story to end as in the words of Joni Mitchell in 1971, "They won’t give peace a chance. That was just a dream some of us had.”
Now it’s as much about giving the planet a chance.
While the system is sabotaging our efforts to elect leaders who realize that militarism fuels the climate crisis and ruins lives, it behooves us to use our power in the communities where we live to effect change. We can say yes to a humane and habitable planet at the local level. Contact New Hampshire Community Rights Network www.nhcommunityrights.org for information on self-government and where this work is effecting change here in the Granite State.
Diane St. Germain, NHCRN Board of Directors