by Jim Clune, published in the Binghamton Sun Bulletin, October 4, 2020
The New York Times Magazine’s recent 1619 Project is based on the premise that the America we now know as the USA was founded in 1619 when the first boatload of slaves arrived, not 1776, as we have been taught.
This is an arguable point. 1619 is seen as the real beginning of the business enterprise that became a nation and then a world power. Slaveholding set the pattern of business under the principle that some are privileged and others are subjugated. This pattern of dominance is how the U.S. treats the world.
The military doctrine of complete power over all arenas — land, sea, sky and now biological, cyberspace and outer space — is called full-spectrum dominance. The pathology of complete power over life and death has taken over. There is a direct line from having and threatening to use nuclear bombs, to having a police officer kneel upon an arrestee’s neck for over eight minutes, killing him. It’s a matter of depraved indifference to human life.
I remember being told while on a visit to El Salvador by an American Jesuit that U.S. politics is a matter of the Republicans generally being the iron fist of the empire, and the Democrats generally being the iron fist in a velvet glove. Military and economic interests are bipartisan within the strict parameters of institutional thinking and momentum.
The endless wars have come home. Ruthless procedures employed in the Middle East are now being used against U.S. citizens. People in a Minneapolis area neighborhood were sitting on their front porches when a squadron of police were walking by. The police ordered them into their houses. When they didn’t move, the commander called out “Light ’em up!” The squad began firing nonlethal weapons at them. “Light ’em up!” is a phrase from the Iraq and Afghan wars.
So, all the money that the government spends on the military, $740.50 billion this year, is in pursuit of what seems a good idea — security and business interests. This pipeline of cash and credit is seen as non-negotiable.
The bipartisan consensus is that the U.S. can rule the world. This is an obsessive mirage that neither enhances mutual security through justice, nor benefits anyone except the weapons manufacturers and the fossil fuel interests.
The White House has recently become the newest “green zone,” like the American embassy in Baghdad — a fortress set down like an intruder in a hostile land. The current occupant of the Oval Office is so frightened of peaceful protesters that he hides in his bunker at night, and then comes out to proclaim that he will “dominate” the streets.
Pope Francis said recently that those who build walls eventually become prisoners behind them. Our entire nation has become has become a prisoner of the illusion that having vast overkill capacity is necessary and inevitable. This will be the death of us all. Blacks, then indigenous, migrants, refugees and, eventually, all of us.
Jim Clune is a long time peace activist in Binghamton, NY. He has practiced civil resistance at Hancock Air National Guard Base outside of Syracuse, NY for more than a decade, first against the work of the base assisting the Iraq war, and later against the work of the base as a national hub for lethal MQ-9 Reaper drone training and operation, where pilots operated these drones 24/7 over Afghanistan.