Thursday, August 27, 2009

American Empire

Last spring, the Peace Resource Center along with other interested groups sponsored a peace march in San Diego. The attendance was low; many believe that with President Obama in office, the urgent need to end useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been addressed. Sadly, Congress has appropriated $84.8 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year ending September 2009. This brings the total war costs in the last eight years to$915.1 billion--- almost a trillion dollars. Republicans and right wingers, with new found born-again zeal, now object to the deficit, claiming there is no money for health care. According to the National Priorities Project, which carefully reviews the budget, 42.2 cents of every tax dollar goes to the military. Only 22 cents goes to health care, and a paltry 8.7 cents goes to anti-poverty programs. About one in eight Americans lives below the federal poverty level.

In a stirring speech, Cindy Sheehan observed that the problem with America is empire. We don’t think of ourselves that way; empire is a superannuated term. Conservatives, like Aaron David Miller insist that America is not an empire: we are a “superpower.” What’s the difference? An empire is an empire is an empire. The shocking fact is, this country spends more on its military budget than every other country. We spend more per capita on war, and we spend more in total than every other country in the world combined. We invade countries at will, and have over eight hundred military bases all around the world.

In Central America, we are apparently so frightened of Hugo Chavez that we tolerate the military expulsion of Zelaya. The cause, the noble cause for which Casey Sheehan died is the protection of unregulated corporate capitalism. America must protect the interests of multinational corporations, most of whom don’t pay for the protection our military offers them. If we were policing the world to ensure personal liberty, freedom of expression and a high standard of living, that would be one thing. But to keep the world safe for cowboy capitalism is quite another.
America is the wealthiest country in the world. It squanders its wealth on the military-industrial complex. The American Empire protects multinational corporations that have no investment or interest in this country. Americans are disproportionately poor, uneducated, and increasingly, uninsured. What are we fighting for?

Dennis Kucinich has long advocated the creation of a Department of Peace. If we did, maybe other countries would respect us instead of despising us. Our nation’s wealth could be redirected to care for our sick, uneducated, and poor. Right wingers who “fear” supposed Big Government healthcare have no problem with Big Government warfare. And that’s the party of Jesus?
Peace, whether internal or international, is the only treasure worth fighting for. By reclaiming larger swaths of peace within ourselves, we may find the strength to reflect that peace to others, and find the hope to fight for worldwide peace. Without peace, there will be no salvation for us individually or as a species. Dare to wage peace. The messianic age is here. The revolution has begun. Tag, you're it.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Douglas-

    I certainly share your perspective on the dominance of the violence-industrial complex and the need to do something about it. However, I hope you will consider revising your language a bit. The expression "fight for peace" is often used by hawks who champion the use of force to achieve peace, for the U.S. at least. I suggest using something such as "work for peace" or "build peace" instead. Campaigning for the Department of Peace falls into this category of building a culture of peace and providing our decision makers with nonviolent alternatives. The subtle shift in language can help us all start being part of the change we wish to see in the world.