Not only has the blowback begun, but it's how we learn where some of the drone bases are. In 2009, a suicide attack killed CIA officers and mercenaries at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the Khost province of Afghanistan, and only then did we learn that the base was used for targeting drone murders in Pakistan.
This is of course apart from the usual blowback of greatly heightened hostility which is being produced by the U.S. military in nations all over the world. The 2010 attack on Libya, for example, resulted in well-armed Tuareg mercenaries, who had backed Gadaffi, heading back to Mali, destabilizing that country, and producing a military coup by a U.S.-trained officer, as well as parts of the country being seized by the latest al Qaeda affiliate. And that's in Mali. Never mind what a paradise Libya has become post liberation!
Many of the bases the U.S. military uses abroad are in nations less heavily occupied than Afghanistan. They are permitted to operate where they do by the nasty governments of those nations, thanks to U.S. support for dictatorship. This explains why the Arab Spring produced so much footage of U.S.-made armored personnel carriers, tanks, helicopters, and tear gas. The Obama administration is eagerly increasing supplies of U.S.-made weaponry to the very regimes beating, jailing, and killing pro-democracy activists. Repeat after me: "But it's a jobs program."
In fact, it's a major jobs program. The Pentagon/State Department markets U.S. weapons abroad, and the U.S. tripled its sales of weapons abroad last year, now accounting for 85% of international weapons sales.
But the weapons sales are the least of it. The United States now maintains its own troops in most nations on the earth and engages in joint training exercises with the local militaries. The biggest areas for base construction today are probably Afghanistan and Africa. Despite the supposed "winding down" of the war on Afghanistan over the next 2 or 12 years, base construction is moving ahead full steam, including new "secret" bases for "special" forces, new "secret" drone bases, and new prisons. The thinking--and I use the term generously--in Afghanistan and around the globe is that the United States should let the locals do more of the killing and dying. Of course, this hasn't worked in Afghanistan or Iraq, any more than it worked in Vietnam. In Afghanistan, a proxy war in the 1980s produced notable blowback that can only be appreciated by fanatics for continued war, not by residents of New York or Washington.
The hurricanes and the rising ocean are our own creation. If we want to turn this trend around we will have to shut down the Department of so-called Defense and create a new department aimed at defending us from dangers that actually exist.
We are up against a military industrial complex that barely existed before World War II and now dominates our government. Over half of federal discretionary spending is dumped into it every year. It funds campaigns and it creates jobs that can easily be eliminated. It creates fewer jobs than any other use of the same dollars, but any other use would be socialism because it wouldn't kill anyone. The jobs are as permanent as the spending. We don't even pretend the wars will end all war anymore. Our Nobel laureates proclaim the permanence of war in their peace prize acceptance speeches.
We can take on the military industrial complex, but it will mean forming a very large coalition of interested but fearful parties. There's a group co-founded by a friend of mine in this area called Environmentalists Against War. But most big environmental groups won't take on our biggest environmental destroyer. In fact, they won't even mention climate change if the president asks them not to, as he did in 2009. The war preparation spending is what drives the torture and imprisonment and assassinations, but the ACLU won't recognize its existence. Wars drive immigrants out of their countries and then exploit them when they get here, but immigrants rights groups won't touch war. If we were to cut war preparations by 80%, leaving the United States with still the biggest military in the world, we could have a green energy program that might just save us, not to mention the best quality housing, transportation, education, healthcare, and retirements to be had. We could invent a dozen important human rights merely by reducing what we spend on the worst crime yet conceived. But where are the anti-poverty groups, the education groups, the housing groups when it comes to opposing the Pentagon. They're cowering. Not all together, but all separately. Together we could turn this thing around.
We've now voted down the racists and yet our government's primary function remains killing dark people. Do we object to racism only in domestic policy?
We are supposedly standing beside something called a fiscal cliff. You know what this makes me think of? I picture a person standing near the top of a cliff, and tied to the person's legs are two chains. Each chain runs over the edge of the cliff and supports a massive weight. The person is struggling to remain standing as these two enormous weights pull downward. One of the weights is war preparations spending. The other is tax cuts for the super rich that we are apparently required to name for Bush no matter how long Obama is around. Now the person is falling and being dragged backwards, face-down toward the edge. But then I picture an endless number of other people in exactly the same situation, and very close to each other. And we are able to take the chains off each other's ankles. This is what we now need: massive cuts to war spending, and massive increases in taxation of plutocrats -- plus massive spending on green energy and all things good and decent. Demanding that cuts to Social Security be a little smaller than they might be is not going to save us.
We should remember at a time like this that when the slightly less funded of two corporate funded candidates wins, we don't win. President Obama publicly and illegally instructed the Attorney General not to prosecute the CIA for torture. We accepted that. Obama told unions not to say "single payer" and they didn't. The peace movement spent the first Obama year muttering about how it was too early, the second worrying about the midterm elections, the third trying to focus the Occupy Movement on our collective antagonists, and the fourth being scared of Mitt Romney. Now we're being told we must not demand military spending cuts or the prosecution of war crimes or the immediate withdrawal of forces abroad. Progressive groups want to pretend to take a stand on Social Security and Medicare before caving. Their opening pretense doesn't even touch military spending. It's our job to add that to the conversation.
So, I don't want any more emails telling me to help Obama succeed at progressive efforts he is working hard against. I want Billionaires for Bush brought back as Oligarchs for Obama. I want the Bush Crimes Commission revived as the Obama Crimes Commission. I want John Conyers's threat to push for the impeachment of Bush if he attacks Iran applied to Obama. And I want the peace movement back!
I propose that we pledge right now to protest and vote against anyone in Congress or the White House who gives an inch on protecting Social Security and Medicare, who votes for current levels of military spending or anything above 75% of current levels, or who fails to oppose wars or to act against climate change. No more honey moons. No more veal pens in which the public servants tell the public organizations how to serve them. And no more promises to vote for someone no matter what they do to us or to our brothers and sisters around the world. We need to use nonviolent action not only to end war but also to provide an alternative path for our young people who might otherwise sign up to kill and die. Nonviolence requires more bravery, more commitment, more morality, and is far more satisfying than joining the Marines, no matter how benevolent the TV advertisements look.
The Declaration of Independence says we have the right to institute new government. It's getting to be about that time.