Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Darwin: Nonviolence is the fittest

"The U.S. military’s presence increasingly takes form not in permanent installations, but through bilateral agreements for military operations and maneuvers" (Lindsay-Poland, 2009, p. 80).

What is the extent of the US military around the world and how does that impact us daily?

The US military is everywhere, all up in everyone's business, spending taxpayer money on embedding anthropologists into combat units in Afghanistan, keeping satellites in orbit to track all important security events everywhere, conducting joint operations with the Ecuadoran army to stop drug trafficking at the Colombia-Ecuador border, swarming the German countryside from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany (53,000 US troops), and on and on and on.

As a result, US security is severely eroded. We play like we are in control, we pump up fear of everyone everywhere, we spend money on the military as though there is no limit, and we can't even figure out that North Korea has thousands of nuclear weapons-grade uranium enrichment centrifuges until Pyongyang invites three American academics in to tour them. We send thousands of military vehicles to other governments along with extensive maintenance operations and we can't slow down drug violence coming into our nation as you read this. We pour $billions into Pakistan and 20 percent of their people report any favorable feelings about us. Pentagon spending has eviscerated our economy more than has any other economic activity and that is a direct security issue to each American. All this activity enriches an elite and impoverishes all the rest of us.

Fixing this takes radical measures, not "defense reform" that diddles at the margins. For a good beginning, listen to many former military officials who are calling this month for a fundamental reorientation of US military missions. Stop basing, training, supplying and creating the impression of control globally. Those same officials note that no one understands or keeps track of how the US spends Pentagon dollars, so we cannot even control our own budget lines, let alone everyone's business everywhere.

The better approach would be to draw in our horns and invest in nonviolence from the local to the transnational. Teach civil society how to become ungovernable in the event of foreign takeover. Work on making our domestic police disarmed. Nonviolence is an ethic and a commitment; you cannot replace a committed war system with nothing in a world overrun with humans, one that was 2.5 billion people the year I was born--it took humanity five million years of evolution and population growth to reach 2.5 billion and it's more than doubled in 60 years. If we don't learn nonviolence we simply have no hope. The natural resources needed to continue violence are radically unsustainable and their use pollutes what is left.

Nonviolence is evolution.

Lindsay-Poland, John (2009). U.S. bases in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Lutz, Catherine (Ed.). The bases of empire: The global struggle against U.S. military posts. New York: New York University Press.

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