| Sherri Donovan |
Military buildup is not the way to peace, climate change, or a safer, sustainable and productive earth that serves the majority of people.
Military buildups and financial wars conducted by the U.S. and their “allies” are a part of the late stages of stagnant, monopolistic, finance capitalism and is being desperately utilized to prop up the U.S. dollar regime and the U.S. hegemonic empire. It is extremely dangerous in a nuclear world that is also facing ecological disasters. War and the concept of declaring enemies should be avoided.
Recent and historic examples are frightening, disconcerting, unjust and have caused immense suffering to millions of people globally. For example: Biden’s recent passage of billions of dollars to the Pentagon, an historic increase in military spending. As reported by Peace Action, President Biden submitted his request for the 2023 Pentagon budget – a staggering $813 billion. In December, 2021 Biden signed into law a military budget of over $777 billion.
As stated by Peace Action, this “2023 Pentagon request is being marketed as keeping pace with China, though China’s military budget is $252 billion, 69% smaller than the U.S. In fact, the U.S. now spends more on its military than the next 11 highest-spending countries combined.”
The truth is that half of this spending will make its way to arms manufacturers. The U.S. is the largest arms dealer in the world, responsible for 39% of arms exports globally, according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute. Arms manufacturers spent over 2.5 billion dollars lobbying Congress in the last 20 years with 177 million dollars of this sum in 2021 (see Truthout, “Ukraine and Yemen Wars Highlight US’s Role as Biggest Arms Dealer in the World,” April 15, 2021, by Mike Ludwig).
The situation in Ukraine is being exploited by defense firms to justify even more spending. In the build up to war in Ukraine, U.S. military contractors perversely characterized the Russian invasion as a business opportunity, with Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes going so far as to proclaim “I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit from it.” As stated by Dennis Torrigoe, “The U.S. and NATO are fanning the flames of this war to weaken Russia as well as to create more demand and thus profits for its military-industrial-financial-media-academic complexes. One goal they are pursuing is to get the Eastern European countries like Poland, Hungary and the Baltic States to standardize their weaponry along the U.S./NATO parameters, thus creating more demand for weapon sales for their war industries.”
In the New York Times article, March 18, 2022, “Visualizing the $13.6
Billion in U.S. Spending on Ukraine” reporters Bianca Pallaro and Alicia Parlapiano pointed out that, “The money includes weapons, military supplies and one of the largest infusions of U.S. foreign aid in the last decade. But it also covers the deployment of U.S. troops to Europe and money for domestic agencies to enforce sanctions.” According to documents obtained by The Washington Post, the U.S. government is also paying millions for a significant portion of Starlink terminal equipment and transportation to Ukraine to Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX. As reported in Jacobin by Branko Marcetic (“What the Left’s Critics Ignore About Military Solutions to Ukraine“):
“Western weapons have already found their way into the hands of far-right extremists, who are integrated into Ukraine’s national guard, its police hierarchy, and its military. These weapons will doubtless find their way to many more extremists, since arms have, quite understandably, been handed out indiscriminately… These far-right groups are explicitly ethnonationalist and even white supremacist. They believe in taking and wielding power by force and dictatorship, support the reacquiring of nuclear arms… The potential blowback isn’t limited to Ukraine. As West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center has repeatedly pointed out, Ukraine has for years been the epicenter for international far-right organizing. That includes white supremacist extremists from nearby Germany as well as US extremists, with even the FBI stating that the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States–based white supremacy organizations,” including ones that took part in the infamous Charlottesville rally… Washington has consistently dismissed diplomacy ever since this crisis began late last year… Even Zelensky has urged them to be more involved, something recently unwittingly acknowledged by the UK defense minister. This demand echoes the calls of analysts like Ishchenko as well as Ukrainian pacifist Yurii Sheliazhenko, who argues that both US and Chinese leadership should join Moscow and Kiev at the negotiating table to ensure a lasting and balanced settlement. We are endlessly told to listen to Zelensky and other Ukrainians’ requests, but this particular request goes curiously unheard.”
Noam Chomsky has surmised in his March 30, 2022 interview with C.J. Polychroniou of Truthout that, “there are no signs from Washington that the Biden administration is interested in engaging in constructive diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine. In fact, President Joe Biden is adding fuel to the fire by using highly inflammatory language against the Russian president. U.S. General Milley on April 5, 2022 declared that this war will be a protracted war for years. Robin Wright, reported in the New Yorker in April 2022 that, according to a report release by the Soufan Center, a nonprofit, global-security research group, “The battlefield in Ukraine is incredibly complex, with a range of violent non-state actors—private military contractors, foreign fighters, volunteers, mercenaries, extremists, and ‘terrorist’ groups’ all in the mix.” As reported by Chelsea Ong in CNBC, “Russian President Vladimir Putin might resort to weapons of mass destruction, like chemical and tactical nuclear weapons, if he fails to achieve a ‘conventional forces victory’ in eastern Ukraine, says Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.”
Biden declaring that the CIA will focus its resources and set up a mission center against China, appearing to indicate that China is the enemy of the American people. (New York Times, October 7, 2021 C.I.A. “Reorganization to Place New Focus on China” by Julian Barnes). As reported by Al Jazeera, October 7, 2021, “CIA Director William Burns said the new mission centre ‘will further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government.'” Biden’s National Defense Authorization Act, quoting Michael Klare, calls for “an unbroken chain of U.S.-armed sentinel states — stretching from Japan and South Korea in the northern Pacific to Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore in the south and India on China’s eastern flank” — meant to encircle China, including Taiwan.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific command is now reported to be planning to enhance the encirclement, doubling its spending in fiscal year 2022, in part to develop “a network of precision-strike missiles along the so-called first island chain.”
Meanwhile, sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE continues, with multiple Saudi Arabia bombings with U.S. weapons in Yemen condemned by Amnesty International. A child in Yemen dies every ten minutes due to these attacks causing widespread starvation according to the UN World Food Programme. Saudi bombing with U.S. weapons has killed more than 150,000 people, including over 14,500 civilians, according to 2022 data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. An official death toll as a result of the war as of 2021 is 370,000, according to Noam Chomsky. The war in Yemen also created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Saudi Arabia is intensifying the blockade of the only port which can bring food supplies.
According to the U.N. refugee agency, about 66% of Yemen’s 30 million people rely on humanitarian assistance for their daily survival, including over 4.2 million displaced people and 102,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. The head of the World Food Program, David Beasley, told The Associated Press that around 13 million people were heading toward starvation in Yemen due to the protracted conflict and lack of funding.
The U.N. humanitarian office has reported that its 2021 humanitarian plan for Yemen received $2.27 billion out of its $3.85 billion requirement, the lowest funding level since 2015. The general warnings are echoed by U.S. specialists, notably Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, formerly the top CIA analyst on the Middle East for four presidents. He charges that the Saudi “offensive action” should be investigated as a war crime.”
The Saudi and Emirati air forces cannot function without U.S. planes, training, intelligence. Yet we do not see these images of war and its victims like 27 children killed in their school bus, on the American news like we did not see images of the children and women killed by U.S. weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq. Review Madre and Human Rights Watch publications. U.S. moral outage is selective. Code Pink has pointed out, the U.S. has also violated the principle of sovereignty, and (in many of the below listed interventions) killed civilians in the invasions of Somalia, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Korea. The U.S.-backed invasion into Lebanon in 1982 killed 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese people and destroyed much of the country with no credible pretext. U.S. drone strikes have occurred in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Somalia in which 7.27 – 15.47% of those killed were civilians (Wikipedia “Civilian Casualties From Drone Strikes” citing New America and Bureau of Investigative Journalism). The largest recipient of US military aid in the Middle East is Israel, which Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has declared an apartheid state. 46,319 civilians were killed in Afghanistan by U.S. forces (Brown University Costs of War Project) and 185,831 – 208,964 civilians in the Iraq war. The Total Human Cost by direct war violence of the U.S. post-9/11 war, as reported by Brown University, The Watson Institute, September 2021, is 897,000 – 929,000 people, which includes civilians, journalists, US contractors, humanitarian workers, U.S. military and opposition fighters in Afghanistan & Pakistan (Oct. 2001 – Aug. 2021); Iraq (March 2003 – Aug. 2021); Syria (Sept. 2014 – May 2021); Yemen (Oct. 2002-Aug. 2021) and other post 9/11 war zones. These figures do not include death from the secondary impact of loss of food, water, infrastructure, war-related disease and displacement.
German, Japanese, European & Australian recently increased their military budgets and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Germany increased its military budget by 100 billion. Australia has added nuclear submarines to its arsenal. As reported by Kosuke Takahashi in The Diplomat, “On December 24, the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio approved 5.4 trillion yen ($47.2 billion) defense spending in fiscal year 2022. The 2022 defense budget includes 216.7 billion yen for the U.S. troops based in the country.” Japan and the U.S. on December 21, 2021 agreed to increase Tokyo’s cost for hosting U.S. forces in the country for five years starting from the next fiscal year to begin covering spending for joint exercises. Specifically, under the new five-year agreement between the two countries, Japan will pay a total of 1.55 trillion yen from fiscal 2022. The annual average will increase by about 10 billion yen to 211 billion yen from the current fiscal year.
The expansion of NATO to 14 East European countries since the Berlin Wall came down and pushes to add Georgia and Ukraine have only provoked conflict. (View Professor John Mearsheimer’s video, “The Russia-Ukraine War and Who is Responsible;” also author of, The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine Conflict”) As Noam Chonsky has pointed out, “Bill Clinton’s 1998 violation of George H.W. Bush’s firm pledge not to expand NATO to the East, a decision that elicited strong warnings from high-level diplomats from George Kennan, Henry Kissinger, Jack Matlock, (current CIA Director) William Burns, and many others, and led Defense Secretary William Perry to come close to resigning in protest…” Have we poked the bear in the eye? Could it have been avoided? There is a NATO base 100 miles from the border of Russia as reported by Chris Hedges in his article, “Chronicles of a War Foretold”. Weapons were flooded into Ukraine by the USA and the UK before the war despite protests from Moscow. In 2021, NATO held over 40 military exercises on the ground, by air and by sea near the Russian border. (Tass.com, December 2021. )
Brown University Professor Stephen Kinzer has pointed out direct and indirect involvements by the CIA and U.S. government to overturn elected leaders and governments around the world in his numerous books and publications. For example, 2014 in Ukraine, Allende in Chile, Arbenz in Guatemala, Mossedegh in Iran, as well as installing and defending right wing dictators in Honduras and El Savador, the CIA killing of Che Guevera, capturing of Nelson Mandela and numerous attempted assassinations of Castro, and intervention in Libya.
This also does not include financial wars and sanctions against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, China & Russia. Freezing of funds of the Afghani people to the tune of seven billion dollars and embargoes against Nicaragua have also been utilized.
The other war is the financial war over the future of the US dollar regime. The heavy-handed and wide-ranging use of economic sanctions are leading countries… like India and other developing economies to doubt the reliability of the US dollar regime in protecting their interests. The US has not only cut off Russia from strategic materials like semiconductors, but has, in an unprecedented move, seized approximately 300 billion of Russia’s central bank reserves kept in US banks. The US has also barred major Russian banks and industries from using the SWIFT system, which settles the vast majority of trade payments around the world. This heightened financial weaponization by the US government has shaken the confidence in the US dollar as the reserve currency of governments around the world.
“The Ukraine-Russia crisis is driving countries to explore new ways of pricing oil, Qatar says” as reported by Katrina Bishop, CNBC, March 26. “It comes after a Wall Street Journal report that Saudi Arabia is in accelerated talks with China to accept yuan instead of dollars for oil that Beijing buys.” The peaking of U.S. imperialism from 40% of the global GDP to 20% currently, may also mean the peaking of the U.S. dollar regime. The use of debt and interest rates, the IMF and World Bank has the effect of impoverishing people globally and maintaining a neo-colonial dependency concerning currency and economies to serve imperialist corporations, central banks and governments of the U.S. and Western Europe.
We must also recognize racially discriminatory refugee and immigration policies as well as historic indigenous genocides, enslavement, internments, imprisonment, deportations, suppression of workers’ and human rights movements. There are non-white people from countries including Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Somalia who have been waiting at the border to apply for asylum for more than two years. People all over the world are languishing in refugee camps for years waiting to be resettled. Title 42 permitted the summary deportation of unaccompanied children and there were 1.5 million deportations (albeit some multiple of same individuals) pursuant to Title 42. Human Rights First reported in March, 2022, “Marking Two Years of Illegal, Inhumane Title 42 Expulsions: Nearly 10,000 Violent Attacks on Asylum Seekers and Migrants” occurred, including rape and kidnapping. Biden should have repealed it 15 months earlier.
The use of media, propaganda and censorship to influence the American public to support and consolidate the military-industrialist positions must not be overlooked. The U.S. prosecution of courageous Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks and Ed Snowdon demonstrate U.S. censorship. Reporter Chris Hedges has seen all of his years of reporting removed from Youtube. Across the U.S., books and curriculums that deal with the history of slavery, segregation and discrimination or even mathematics and literature are banned and removed from our schools and libraries. Laws like Florida’s recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Georgia’s recent voting rights suppression law and the anti-choice prohibitions intentionally impact our most vulnerable and non-wealthy communities. There is constant creation of the “other” to stop global unity for people’s empowerment.
Warning: All of the above actions by the U.S. are elements of modern day fascism. It should be noted that neo-liberal positions that the U.S. can economically support a strong military and provide domestic programs and even an American job guarantee by printing more money or financial maneuvers are harmful to real social change and causes suffering to the majority of people globally as outlined above.
We need to imagine, organize for and implement a more just and safe world with demilitarization and deescalation, diplomacy, neutralization, productive green economic production with long -term planning, racial, and sexual equality, indigenous reparations, independent multiple currencies, multiple monetary reserves, lateral trade, workers’ councils (as set forth by Professor Paul Mattick, Jr.) and debt relief that can empower disadvantaged peoples and southern nations.