The Permanent Militarization of America
OP-Ed, New York Times November 4, 2012
By AARON B. O’CONNELL
IN 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office warning of the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life. Most people know the term the president popularized, but few remember his argument.
In his farewell address, Eisenhower called for a better equilibrium between military and domestic affairs in our economy, politics and culture. He worried that the defense industry’s search for profits would warp foreign policy and, conversely, that too much state control of the private sector would cause economic stagnation. He warned that unending preparations for war were incongruous with the nation’s history. He cautioned that war and warmaking took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.
But Eisenhower’s least heeded warning — concerning the spiritual effects of permanent preparations for war — is more important now than ever. Our culture has militarized considerably since Eisenhower’s era, and civilians, not the armed services, have been the principal cause. From lawmakers’ constant use of “support our troops” to justify defense spending, to TV programs and video games like “NCIS,” “Homeland” and “Call of Duty,” to NBC’s shameful and unreal reality show “Stars Earn Stripes,” Americans are subjected to a daily diet of stories that valorize the military while the storytellers pursue their own opportunistic political and commercial agendas. Of course, veterans should be thanked for serving their country, as should police officers, emergency workers and teachers. But no institution — particularly one financed by the taxpayers — should be immune from thoughtful criticism.
Uncritical support of all things martial is quickly becoming the new normal for our youth. Hardly any of my students at the Naval Academy remember a time when their nation wasn’t at war. Almost all think it ordinary to hear of drone strikes in Yemen or Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent revelation of counterterrorism bases in Africa elicits no surprise in them, nor do the military ceremonies that are now regular features at sporting events. That which is left unexamined eventually becomes invisible, and as a result, few Americans today are giving sufficient consideration to the full range of violent activities the government undertakes in their names.
Were Eisenhower alive, he’d be aghast at our debt, deficits and still expanding military-industrial complex. And he would certainly be critical of the “insidious penetration of our minds” by video game companies and television networks, the news media and the partisan pundits. With so little knowledge of what Eisenhower called the “lingering sadness of war” and the “certain agony of the battlefield,” they have done as much as anyone to turn the hard work of national security into the crass business of politics and entertainment.
Read the whole article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/opinion/the-permanent-militarization-of-america.html
Veterans For Peace Supports U.N. Committee in Questioning U.S. Recruitment, Killing of Children
Leah Bolger, President of Veterans For Peace, applauded a United Nations Committee this week for raising concerns about the recruitment of children into the U.S. military, the U.S. killing of children in Afghanistan, the U.S. detention and torture of children labeled "combatants," and the provision of weapons by the United States to other nations employing child soldiers.
While the United States is one of only three countries, along with Somalia and South Sudan, not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has ratified and made part of its law the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which requires special protections for any military recruits under the age of 18.
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked for additional information related to the Second Periodic Report of the United States to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, (OPAC). The United States has until November 16, 2012, to respond.
The Committee cites concerns regarding the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs operating in U.S. schools, the recruiting provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a test administered to 660,000 children in 14,000 U.S. high schools each year.
Where do our income tax dollars go?
For each dollar of federal income tax we pay in 2010, the government spends about:
- 39¢ - Pentagon spending for current & past wars
- 20¢ - Health Care
- 17¢ - Responding to Poverty
- 14¢ - General Government
- 6¢ - Supporting the Economy
- 3¢ - Energy,Science and Environment
- 2¢ - Diplomacy, Development and War Prevention
14 times more money goes toward waging war than preventing it.
For more information, see this flyer: How Is the Federal Government Spending Our Income Tax Dollars in 2010?
TAME Flyers available
Colorful tri-fold brochures with facts, resources and food for thought. Offer them at job fairs, "military career days" or any truth-in-recruiting table. Print them yourselves or make a small donation toward color toner. Contact: email@example.com
Truth and Alternatives to Militarism in Education (TAME) exists to raise awareness of the ways by which militarism encourages violence, consumes resources, and threatens our well-being.
We present critical perspectives on the role of the military and the idealized portrayal of war to youth in particular, parents, educators, and the public in general.
We work to expose the negative aspects of a military presence and an ongoing recruitment in our educational institutions, including the system of promises and inducements used to entice young people into the military.
We encourage the development and enforcement of policies limiting the presence of the military in our schools.
TAME is open to all those actively working to counteract the influence of militarism in both our schools and the broader society.