Last weekend, U.S. corporate media continued a 20-year repetition compulsion to evade the central role of the USA in causing vast carnage and misery due to the so-called War on Terror. But millions of Americans fervently oppose the military-industrial complex and its extremely immoral nonstop warfare.
CodePink and Massachusetts Peace Action hosted a national webinar to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 -- the day before Sunday's launch of the Cut the Pentagon campaign -- and the resulting video includes more than 20 speakers who directly challenged the lethal orthodoxy of the warfare state. As part of the mix, here's the gist of what I had to say:
When we hear all the media coverage and retrospectives, we rarely hear -- and certainly almost never in the mass media hear -- that when people are killed, whether it's intentional or predictable, those are atrocities that are being financed by U.S. taxpayers. And so we hear about the evils of Al Qaeda and 9/11, and certainly those were evils, but we're not hearing about the predictable as well as the intentional deaths: the tens of thousands of civilians killed by U.S. air strikes alone in the last two decades, and the injuries, and the terrorizing of people with drones and other U.S. weapons. We're hearing very little about that.
Part of the role of activists is to make those realities heard, make them heard loud and clear, as forcefully and as emphatically and as powerfully as possible. Activist roles can sometimes get blurred in terms of becoming conflated with the roles of some of the best members of Congress. When progressive legislators push for peace and social justice, they deserve our praise and our support. When they succumb to the foreign-policy "Blob" -- when they start to be more a representative of the establishment to the movements rather than a representative of the movements to the establishment -- we've got a problem.
It's vital for progressive activists to be clear about what our goals are, and to be willing to challenge even our friends on Capitol Hill.
I'll give you a very recent example. Two leaders of anti-war forces in the House of Representatives, a couple of weeks ago, circulated a "Dear Colleague" message encouraging members of the House to sign a letter urging the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, to stand firm behind President Biden's 1.6 percent increase in the Pentagon budget, over the budget that Trump had gotten the year before. The point of the letter was: Chairman Smith, we want you to defend the Biden budget's increase of 1.6 percent, against the budget that has just been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee with a 3.3 percent increase.
That kind of a letter moves the goal posts further and further to the liking of the military-industrial complex, to the liking of war profiteers, to the liking of the warfare state. And so, when people we admire and support, in this case Rep. Mark Pocan and Rep. Barbara Lee, circulate such a Dear Colleague letter, there's a tendency for organizations to say: "Yeah, we're going to get behind you," we will respond affirmatively to the call to urge our members to urge their representatives in Congress to sign this letter. And what that creates is a jumping-off point that moves the frame of reference farther and farther into the militarism that we're trying to push back against. For that reason, my colleagues and I at RootsAction decided to decline an invitation to sign in support.
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