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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/8/09

Peace Activists Brought on the Reservation

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Message Bruce K. Gagnon
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Let me first say this picture is not quite right for what I want to say here but after spending alot of time looking for just the right image it is all I could find that came close to fitting my message. Bear with me please.

Obama's proposed military budget for 2010 is getting lots of copy and most of it is headlined as "cut backs in military spending." Of course this is not at all correct as he is really seeking at least a 4% increase in Pentagon spending for next year. Some Democrats in Congress want to make it even more.

What Obama is doing is shifting some monies around. Delay or cut one program and move those funds into things like $2 billion more for Afghanistan war intelligence and surveillance and $500 million more for helicopters in that war zone. He also wants more special operations troops (trained killer teams) for Afghanistan and more unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drones.

Just one local example is Bath Iron Works here in Maine. They presently are building Navy Aegis destroyers called the DDG-51 which cost $1.2 billion each. The politicians (Republican and Democrat alike) are pushing a new generation destroyer called the DDG-1000 which would cost $3 billion each. Secretary of War Robert Gates didn't want them because of the increased cost and their vulnerability to cruise missiles but they are now in Obama's new Pentagon budget. It should be remembered that Bath Iron Works is owned by General Dynamics and one of the major owners of this weapons corporation is the Crown family out of Chicago who were early big time funders of the Obama campaign. Is there a connection there? You decide.

So some things like the F-22 will be cut, but then the F-35 will be added in at a lifetime cost of about $1 trillion. They want to slow down on the airborne laser program at the Missile Defense Agency and are even going to cut just over $1 billion from that budget but the money won't be going into building rail cars or wind turbines. It will go into other Pentagon programs.

What breaks my heart is to see some so-called peace groups cheering for "Obama's military cuts" and misleading their memberships into thinking that the president is actually calling for cuts when overall we are talking about hefty increases.

One group,
True Majority, sent around a message saying, "At last! Some of us wondered if this day would ever come. Today the Secretary of Defense explained to Congress exactly the points True Majority members have been making for years: wasting taxes on weapons which don't work and have no conceivable use against real-world enemies makes us LESS strong as a nation. Show Congress we're ready to invest in True Security -- sign the petition."

So their message seems to be: don't waste money on weapons that don't work but it is just fine to increase military spending for weapons "that do work." And here I thought the peace movement was trying to get rid of all these weapons systems that are killing innocent people by the legions in Iraq and Afghanistan and planning for wars in Africa and more.

My friend
David Swanson sent around an email that I forward to my list this morning. In it he had this to say about True Majority's cheer leading: "But this is an activist group that drives giant displays of Oreo cookies around the country to illustrate the relative sizes of the military budget and budgets for schools and health care. An Oreo got added to the military stack, and 'True' Majority wants us to cheer instead of vomiting."

Graphic point but my sentiments exactly.

So here is how I see the connection to Indian reservations. Throughout my life I have read endlessly about US policy toward Native American people - the genocide and the policy to put the Indian people on reservations as one strategy to destroy their culture and take their lands.

Now and then there were some Indian leaders who grew weary of fighting the white man and who agreed to sign the "treaties" that gave their land to the government. There were Indians who collaborated with the US Army as spies and scouts to find and kill other "hostile" Indians. Often, after the successful "apprehension" of the Indians who refused to go onto the reservation, the collaborators themselves were arrested and jailed or even killed.

My point is that today there are some "leaders" in the peace movement who are so anxious for a "victory" that they are allowing themselves to be used to create the impression that military spending increases are some how victories for the peace movement. This is what I see as the grave danger of the Obama administration. If George W. Bush came out and said he was going to cut some military systems but still increase overall Pentagon spending, groups like True Majority would be all over that lie just like flies on a Sunday picnic. But when the Democrats do the same kind of shell game some groups become accomplices to this dangerous illusion.

So in a way I see some peace movement folks helping to bring us all onto the reservation as increases in military spending right now, during this fiscal crisis, mean less money for social and environment programs that create more jobs than military production does.

I am not questioning motives of these folks but I am seriously questioning their strategy, their judgement, and their basic common sense. They are hurting the cause by becoming agents of a corporate dominated political program - in this case the Democratic Party.

I once again insist that the job of the peace activist, no matter which party is in power, is to challenge all moves to increase military spending and prepare for more war. To do otherwise only serves the interests of the military industrial complex.

Our job is to non-violently resist the cavalry - not to saddle their horses for battle.

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Bruce Gagnon is the Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.


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