Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Never enough for the greedy and the violent

Why is it so easy for the military to get young people to join when they know that they can do any other job with less risk of killing an innocent child or dying themselves?
The military has all the money.

Why is it so easy for the military to get Congress to vote for massive amounts of funding to the Pentagon?
The military has all the money.

Why is it so easy for the military to convince everyone that they are more important to fund and fund and fund and fund than education, environmental protection, housing, or jobs?
The military has all the money.

Why is it so easy for the military to find journalists favorable to them?
Well, why do you think?

But threaten to slow the rate of increase to the military funding or impose an across-the-board freeze on all government spending--the sequester--and who shrieks most shrilly?
The military.

I'm never surprised when (finally! thankfully!) soon-to-retire NPR Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan invites the military to come on the air yet again. And again. And again. He has lost track of how many times many of his favorite officers sit comfortably in Conan's studio chairs, knowing they will not get one single tough question, knowing that Conan will trip all over himself to show off his knowledge of military arcana, knowing that his fawning sycophantic prompts will allow them to regale us all with sea stories or har-har military humor. His deferential obeisance opens the bully pulpit of the NPR microphone to military tirades demanding more more more from Americans, or else, and Neal never misses a beat, nor an opportunity to invite them back in case we the public are not whipping into support formation fast enough for the men with all the guns and money.

So he did it again yesterday, Monday, June 24, 2013. "Good to be back" was the common greeting from the military and military institute guests. One in particular, John Nagl, non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, was the political hitman. He railed on and on at every opportunity about the dangers and sure deaths because of the sequester. An example:

"I really want to take this opportunity to let the American people know that if their armed forces are called upon right now, they will be less ready than they should be. They will lose more of America's sons and daughters than they need to because we have grounded fighter squadrons and we have turned off National Training Center rotations for our Army because of the sequester. And this is a crime against the armed forces of the United States of America. And I'm here in Washington. We're on North Capital. We're right next door to Capitol Hill where those decisions were made. Those need to be overturned."

Really? Nagl was set up to return to this theme, to harp on the poormouth status of the most highly funded military the world has ever seen, bar none,  Nagl actually claimed at one point, "Americans veterans are going to die because of the sequester." No, Mr. Nagl, they have been dying all along when they are stupidly sent into combat based on a pack of lies. They die because no one on the entire planet now or ever has liked foreign troops occupying their land. Americans are going to die because they are not covered even by Obamacare. Americans are going to die because their bridges are falling into rivers. Americans are going to die because environmental protection is vastly underfunded. If the military can't make do with the lion's share of the discretionary spending, um, wow.

Conan is like Bill O'ReillyLite. If he has ever invited a peace intellectual on his program, I'm not aware of it, and if he ever did, I'm sure it was a one-shot deal and the interview would have been peppered with tough questions. Conan knows how to do that, but never does to military mouthpieces.

In the end, the liberal militarists are actually more effective imperialists than the conservatives. The liberal imperialists want more classes of people in the military, more of the best and brightest, so they favor women and gays, while the conservatives harumph and say, well, waddya expect when you allow women in? Of course we rape! Liberals see that is not adaptive and try to work around the 26,000 sexual assaults by condemning them and calling for more training and accountability.

We do need more training. We need massive resources diverted from the divisions of tanks and fleets of warships and flights of missles. We need training in intercultural communication, conflict de-escalation, nonviolent interposition, and mass nonviolent mobilization. We need smart sanctions that only affect badly behaving elites and we need millions of jobs that pay people to learn these skills, learn foreign languages, and teach them how to build a sustainable future.

As Bucky Fuller framed it so long ago, we are headed for utopia or oblivion. At least I can personally be satisfied that Neal Conan is headed off the air next month. I only hope the next host of such a program can start to interview the people who can lead us down a far better path than endless war, people like Kathy Kelly, Laura Finley, Medea Benjamin, Erica Chenoweth, Maria Stephan, Cynthia Boaz, Stephen Zunes, Hardy Merriman, Jack DuVall, and so forth. Those people are available, NPR. They solve problems without threatening to blow up anyone's home or kill their children. Time to shift our focus, to listen to some voices who have just as much experience, but doing conflict in a constructive way. Let's hit the refresh icon, NPR. Leave Conan and his guests in rocking chairs and find some folks who can think outside the 'bang-you're-dead' box.

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