made public through Wikileaks and major news organizations 30,386 U.S.
State Department cables to and from U.S. embassies and consulates just
in Latin America, 10,000 of them marked Confidential. Of course, this
embarrassed and inconvenienced a lot of people. Diplomats turned out to
be working for the CIA and pushing forward the war supposedly on
drugs. Manning has allowed us to see what our government does around
the world and does not talk about. Our State Department spends a lot of
time persuading other nations to buy U.S. weapons, and a good deal of
time threatening and badgering rather undiplomatically, during all of
which it views 95% of humanity with the same scorn it clearly feels for
99% of us in the United States.
Manning, together with Julian
Assange and WikiLeaks, has also allowed Latin Americans a glimpse of
what their governments are up to. One result of that has been a better
presidential outcome in Peru -- perhaps one of a very small number of
times that U.S. influence on a foreign election has been for the better,
and one of the very small number of times that the influence has been
public and transparent. The U.S. ambassador to Mexico has had to
resign, while in Ecuador President Correa kicked the U.S. ambassador
out. Now, Correa has before him the opportunity to provide Assange with
asylum or to allow him to face likely prosecution by kangaroo court in
the United States. Allowing the imprisonment or even execution of a
well-known figure for the crime of journalism would be a big step
backwards for the world, one that I have to assume a man willing to kick
out a U.S. military base and a U.S. ambassador has the goodness and the
courage not to allow. At RootsAction.org we've flooded Ecuadorean
embassies with requests to grant Assange asylum. Assange has working
for him now Baltasar Garzon, who had the nerve as a Spanish judge, to
attempt prosecutions of U.S. officials for torture. It is in such
foreign allies that we find remnants of the notion of a rule of law.
all is not lost here in the United States. We are part of a global
movement. Even Veterans For Peace is opening chapters abroad. And we
are building the strength to influence our own government as well -- a
task far more easily done than that government would, of course, have us
believe. We're taught that activism has no impact, that military
spending is being cut, that military spending is a jobs program, that
war is a sport, and that the world needs our wars whether it knows it or
Candidate Obama promised to increase military spending and
size and President Obama has done so. Meanwhile three GOP senators are
touring the country warning that mythical military cuts will endanger us
and hurt our socialistic jobs program. But money invested in
non-military programs or even in tax cuts for non-billionaires creates
more jobs than does military spending, more than enough to pay for a
conversion program to retrain and retool.
In much of the world,
spending money on killing people in order to produce jobs is viewed as
sociopathic. U.S. military spending has increased dramatically in the
past decade, in the Department of so-called "Defense" and in other
departments, including "Homeland Security," Energy, State, etc., plus
increased secret budgets and the militarization of the CIA, totaling
well over a trillion dollars a year now.
The U.S. House of
Representatives a couple of weeks ago voted to limit next year's DOD
spending to last year's level, with some loopholes. Making use of the
loopholes, the House increased spending by over $1 billion.
year's Budget Control Act, and the failure of the Super Congress,
requires minimal cuts to military spending, but Congress is proceeding
in violation of its own law.
When we're told that cuts have
already happened, usually what has been cut is future dream budgets.
But cutting the Pentagon's wish list can still leave it with more than
it had before.
When we're told that big numbers will be cut, such
as $500 billion "over 10 years," this means that cutting $50 billion
out of the budget sounds bigger if you multiply it by 10. That's all it
means. Or it means a plan to cut less than $50 billion now but more in
future years when it will be somebody else's problem.
military costs roughly what all other nations spend on their militaries
combined, and more than the rest of U.S. discretionary spending
combined. This, combined with tax cuts for billionaires and
corporations, or either factor alone, explains why many poorer nations
have better schools, parks, energy systems, and infrastructure. For
less than 10 percent of U.S. military spending, we could make state
college tuition free.
Instead we spend billions every year on
advertising and recruitment. If you've watched the Olympics on NBC
you've probably seen ads promoting a war-o-tainment reality show
cohosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, co-starring Todd Palin,
and with no apparent role for reality. The ads brag about the use of
real bullets in a way that promoters of the new Batman movie probably
wouldn't try. But the chances that any of the celebrities engaged in
"war competition" on NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes" will be shot and killed
is essentially what it was for John Wayne, as he promoted war while
dodging it (even if nuclear weapons testing got him in the end).
and Just Foreign Policy have set up a website at StarsEarnStripes.org
to push NBC to show the real cost of war, and to help get them started.
Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often
children and the elderly. NBC is not showing this reality on its
war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs. Other nations'
media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of
One of NBC's corporate parents, General Electric,
takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy -- rather, as
financial profit. (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general
hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of
permanent war. And consider for a moment who that retired general is.
During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia commanded by Gen. Wesley Clark,
civilians and a TV station were bombed, while cluster bombs and depleted
uranium were used. Had Clark done these things for another nation, NBC
would probably favor his prosecution and certainly not employ him.
arrived at the point of watching gladiators. We've replaced bread and
circuses with Big Macs and war-reality shows. We're in need of a
nonviolent revolution of values, something embodied by and in need of
leadership by Veterans For Peace.
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