Saturday, May 24, 2014

Militarism is a Disease And Needs to be Stamped Out

A remarkable article appeared in the June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.  (Also available as free PDF here.)

The authors, experts in public health, are listed with all their academic credentials: William H. Wiist, DHSc, MPH, MS, Kathy Barker, PhD, Neil Arya, MD, Jon Rohde, MD, Martin Donohoe, MD, Shelley White, PhD, MPH, Pauline Lubens, MPH, Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD, and Amy Hagopian, PhD.

One of the highlights that struck me was the finding that "since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq. During the 20th century, 190 million deaths could be directly and indirectly related to war -- more than in the previous 4 centuries."

Such facts, footnoted in the article, are especially useful now in the face of a current myopic  academic trend in the United States proclaiming the death of war. How did this magic trick get accomplished? By re-categorizing many wars as other things, and minimizing death counts, as well as viewing deaths as proportions of the global population rather than of a local population or as absolute numbers. Using such perverse statistical devices and much artifice,  various authors have thereby claimed that war is vanishing. (One supposes they likely get most of their grants from the Pentagon.)   Obviously we all wish - at least most of us - that war should vanish, but that is only likely to happen if we find the drive and the resources to make it happen. We also need the politicos with enough balls to stand up to the Military Industrial complex as opposed to rolling over for them at every turn and after each election cycle.

:What exactly is this disease of militarism? According to the article:

"Militarism is the deliberate extension of military objectives and rationale into shaping the culture, politics, and economics of civilian life so that war and the preparation for war is normalized, and the development and maintenance of strong military institutions is prioritized. Militarism is an excessive reliance on
a strong military power and the threat of force as a legitimate means of pursuing policy goals in difficult international relations. It glorifies warriors, gives strong allegiance to the military as the ultimate guarantor of freedom and safety, and reveres military morals and ethics as being above criticism. Militarism instigates civilian society's adoption of military concepts, behaviors, myths, and language as its own. Studies show that militarism is positively correlated with conservatism, nationalism, religiosity, patriotism, and with an authoritarian personality, and negatively related to respect for civil liberties, tolerance of dissent, democratic principles, sympathy and welfare toward the troubled and poor, and foreign aid for poorer nations. Militarism subordinates other societal interests, including health, to the interests of the military"

And how, exactly, does the U.S. suffer from it malignant presence?

"Militarism is intercalated into many aspects of life in the United States and, since the military draft was eliminated, makes few overt demands of the public except the costs in taxpayer funding. Its expression, magnitude, and implications have become invisible to a large proportion of the civilian population, with little recognition of the human costs or the negative image held by other countries. Militarism has been called a 'psychosocial disease,' making it amenable to population-wide interventions. . . .

"The United States is responsible for 41% of the world's total military spending. The next largest in spending are China, accounting for 8.2%; Russia, 4.1%; and the United Kingdom and France, both 3.6%. . . . If all military . . . costs are included, annual [US] spending amounts to $1 trillion . . . . According to the DOD fiscal year 2012 base structure report, 'The DOD manages global property of more than 555,000 facilities at more than 5,000 sites, covering more than 28 million acres.' The United States maintains 700 to 1000 military bases or sites in more than 100 countries. . . .
"In 2011 the United States ranked first in worldwide conventional weapons sales, accounting for 78% ($66 billion). Russia was second with $4.8 billion. . . .

"In 2011-2012, the top-7 US arms producing and service companies contributed $9.8 million to federal election campaigns. Five of the top-10 [military] aerospace corporations in the world (3 US, 2 UK and Europe) spent $53 million lobbying the US government in 2011. . . .

"The main source of young recruits is the US public school system, where recruiting focuses on rural and impoverished youths, and thus forms an effective poverty draft that is invisible to most middle- and upper-class families. . . . In contradiction of the United States' signature on the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict treaty, the military recruits minors in public high schools, and does not inform students or parents of their right to withhold home contact information. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is given in public high schools as a career aptitude test and is compulsory in many high schools, with students' contact information forwarded to the military, except in Maryland where the state legislature mandated that schools no longer automatically forward the information."

The preceding synopsis discloses a nation without vision, in meltdown mode - or certainly in rapid decline. When militarism holds all the cards and is the central organizing principle of a society, then that society is essentially dead. (Think of 'Oceania' in Orwell's '1984') In effect, the preceding description embodies Eisenhower's January, 1961 Farewell address warning concerning the spread of the Military-Industrial complex.

The analogy to a malignant cancer is spot on because all funds plowed into military BS, whether Raptor jets, new F35 fighters, tanks or drones is essentially money not going to space exploration, education and health care. Not to mention infrastructure repair. Hence, those of us who perceive a massive collapse on the way - in very literal terms - and just like that for the Roman Empire. The worst perversion, obviously, is mandating military indoctrination in high schools and allowing recruiting there. Is it any wonder the U.S. is 26th in math and 37th in science in world wide assessments for proficiency?

Not at all when you consider how the military meme has poisoned the educational well, and moreover enticed tens of thousands to settle for the lowest common denominator in pursuing a military career. As if conceding there are no other jobs they could ever get, or want.

Obviously, none of the above is what these kids are told. Oh no. They're pumped full of BS on how they are "protecting our freedoms" and defending liberty with other nonsense like "Freedom is not free". No, of course not! That's why taxes have been demanded of the people and PAID in real wars! Whereas when Bush Jr. launched Afghanistan and Iraq he told Americans to "just go shopping" and actually CUT taxes!  Can you say derelict? How about insane?

But see, you never get real freedom, or peace, by fighting endless wars - most just to test new weapons for which billions have been spent, OR.... to grab resources (like oil) for the Neoliberal markets. Or better, to keep precious resources expended for endless massive destruction so the population approaches destitution- even if gradually via creeping inequality.

Does the one percent worry about militarism? Of course not! They likely have stocks in defense contractors like Raytheon or Lockheed. They will get rich off weaponry and war even as the rest of us sink. 

The politicians, meanwhile, are all the same with few exceptions (e.g. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) because the military knows how to intimidate them and shake them down to cooperate with the national perdition. They too, are eventually cajoled into wearing their little American flag lapel pins that stand for allegiance to the military mavens and their tools. 41 percent of the world's military spending and 201 interventions since WWII is the sure sign of a nation off course, and too invested the economic destruction of resources as opposed to their useful management for their citizens.

Alas, as post-Peak Oil conditions progress in tandem with global warming, the economic losses and privation from militarism will grow worse - to the detriment of all except the richest. This is exactly why militarism is named as such a health problem.  The longer it is allowed to progress and wreak havoc on our country, the worse it will be for us all.  Militarism - military thinking and domination - must not be permitted to metastasize to the point its eats away the nation's innards like a cancer.

For every kid bamboozled by a recruiter to join this cancer, we need to be ready to disclose reality and open a chasm in the victim's brain to see the light. And that a military "career" is a dead end and not the boundless future the liars make it out to be!

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