From a welfare state to a warfare state

But money in politics is not the only major institutional factor in which everyday and state violence are nourished by a growing militarism. As David Theo Goldberg has argued in his essay “Mission Accomplished: Militarizing Social Logic,” the military has also assumed a central role in shaping all aspects of society. Militarization is about more than the use of repressive power; it also represents a powerful social logic that is constitutive of values, modes of rationality and ways of thinking. According to Goldberg,

The military is not just a fighting machine…. It serves and socializes. It hands down to the society, as big brother might, its more or less perfected goods, from gunpowder to guns, computing to information management … In short, while militarily produced instruments might be retooled to other, broader social purpose – the military shapes pretty much the entire range of social production from commodities to culture, social goods to social theory.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights and Peace movement

King addressed the issue of the relationship between the struggles for peace and civil rights in his Riverside Church speech. He began the speech by addressing the criticisms of those who suggested that it was not his “place” to speak out against the war:

“”Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known my commitment, my calling or me. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.” Continue reading

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Critiques of Capitalism and Militarism

America’s celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. typically focus on his civil rights activism: the nonviolent actions that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The last few years of King’s life, by contrast, are generally overlooked. When he was assassinated in 1968, King was in the midst of waging a radical campaign against economic inequality and poverty, while protesting vigorously against the Vietnam War. Continue reading

US Military Operations in Africa

Nick Turse, “Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa,” 13 March 2014, TomDispatch

Since 9/11, the U.S. military has been making inroads in Africa, building alliances, facilities, and a sophisticated logistics network.  Despite repeated assurances by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) that military activities on the continent were minuscule, a 2013 investigation by TomDispatch exposed surprisingly large and expanding U.S. operations — including recent military involvement with no fewer than 49 of 54 nations on the continent.  Washington’s goal continues to be building these nations into stable partners with robust, capable militaries, as well as creating regional bulwarks favorable to its strategic interests in Africa.  Yet over the last years, the results have often confounded the planning — with American operations serving as a catalyst for blowback (to use a term of CIA tradecraft).
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Technology, not policy, will make it easier to conduct the ‘forever war’

Micah Zenko, “The True Forever War,” 24 January 2014, Foreign Policy

Technology, not policy, will make it easier for U.S. leaders to kill people, blow things up, and disrupt computer networks around the world.

… Many correctly highlight that the AUMF does not reflect the scope of the conflict that the United States is now engaged in, and that its elasticity assures that America will remain on a war footing in perpetuity. However, those concerned with the prospects of a “forever war” should be concerned less about the irrelevant post-9/11 legislative mandate, and more about the revolutionary expansion of military assets that have been made available to the president since then. These technologies and processes that have reduced the costs and risks of using force have permanently changed how Americans conceive of military operations. As killing people, blowing things up, and disrupting computer networks will only get easier, it is worthwhile to take stock of where we are today.
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