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“It's time to stand up - not to cheer, but to fight back.”
--Senator Russ Feingold, On Executive Power. (Daily Kos, 2006-02-02)

Monday, June 05, 2006

How can we allow the continued militarization of our American way of life?

In light of our compulsive need, as a country, to spend more for Defense while becoming less secure as a nation, it is not surprising to read the following from the LA Times.

Army Manual to Skip Geneva Detainee Rule

June 5, 2006
WASHINGTON The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

Full story http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-na-torture5jun05,1,390159.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

This type of news of course forms the foundation of my objection to the appointment of a military General as head of the CIA - see my earlier post. It is good to hear that the State Department has strongly objected to this new "Policy" direction, but this is not enough. The real issue, and a sad one I might add, is the fact that so many Americans fail to see this expantion of the military culture or the "militarization of the American way of life" as a bad or undesirable consequence in a post 9/11 environment.

I am again reminded of the statement I heard during my own service to my country as a GI during the Vietnam war - "The senior military officers of this country are the only ones who are holding this country together." This statement did not come from some Military Junta member but from a senior member of the United States military intelligence gathering community.

By today the military has already discovered the financial benefits of invading business and securing excessive a war dividend for themselves and their shareholders. Can we forget the words of warning from President and General Eisenhower in his famous "Military- Industrial Complex Speech" of 1961. It should be required reading by all Americans and especially Progressives (full text http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html)

"Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."


Why do we Progressives cower in the corner whenever Defense or Security policy is mentioned? Are not these our very thoughts? How many more years do we watch the militarization of the American way of life before we find the words to inform the American voting public that our policies are based on a solid Defense and Intelligence gathering plan that was developed by one of Americas most well known Generals? We Progressives should have learned that it is not enough to simply say we have a better plan. How much better would our message be accepted if we show a plan that is has a foundation in the proud tradition of one of Americas best known, respected and Republican Generals? The words Eisenhower said and we are saying are the same - it is just the phrasing that is different.

When do we wake up and stop being afraid? Remember "Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose." As much as some of us are opposed to war as the main US foreign policy strategy, we must be willing to develop new directions for the militarywe have helded create a world that is unsafe at any level. But why do we only think of the military as the developer of arms? If the Department of Peace concept is too advanced for America today why don't we work to develop a plan and policy for a new Defense Department that is based on "intelligent and decent purpose"? A Defense Department that looks to the United States Institute of Peace for ideas at least as much as the Military Industrial Complex? Why should we continue to allow the CIA to spend tax dollars funding dubious arms dealers so thay can "loose" 200,000 AK-47 assault weapons and spend nothing on ways to develop new strategies for people to life their lives in peace?

We have a lot of work to do but one thing is certain - "Russ and us in 2008" is the best hope we have as Americans to cease the militarization of the American way of life and achieve real security.

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