We’re here today not just to Rage Against the War Machine but to dismantle the war machine, because it is hurting us all, and no one more than the people of Ukraine, who are being used as cannon fodder in this superpower proxy war. We need a movement to overcome the powerful special interests behind the war machine – the war profiteers, the fossil fuel and Wall Street barons profiting from the carnage. And in the interests of building that movement, I’d like to clarify some of the forbidden and empowering truths the war machine does not want you to know. This is especially for the benefit of people just realizing we’re all in the cross hairs of this crisis.
Martin Luther King spoke the first forbidden truth nearly 60 years ago – that the US war machine is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. Well it’s much bigger now and it’s impoverishing and endangering all of us. It squanders 2/3 of our discretionary budget[i] and puts at grave risk virtually every dimension of our security: nuclear, economic, food, climate, energy and more. Left to its own devices the war machine – with its proxy, NATO – will destroy life on the planet- which it is in the process of doing right now.
The dimensions of the war machine are off the charts. The US has 800 foreign bases. Russia has about 30. Our so-called War on Terror continues operations in a mind boggling 85 countries[ii] (Boston University Cost of War project). Our $840 Billion military budget is equivalent to the next 9 biggest military budgets combined, and the $100+ Billion we’re spending to support the Ukraine war alone is greater than the entire annual Russian military budget. We’ve conducted over 250 military interventions in the past 20 years[iii] (Congressional Research Service) and killed a staggering 6 million people in just a portion of the so-called US war on terror.[iv]
This murderous military spending consumes resources desperately needed here at home – by 70,000 people who die each year for lack of health insurance, a 1/2 M homeless on any given night, 43 million mired in student debt, 100 million in medical debts, 22 M impoverished children & more.
US imperial aims are clearly stated in our official military policy, known as full spectrum dominance, an all-purpose declaration of war for all time against all economic and military competitors – friend or foe.
Which leads to the second forbidden truth – namely that US empire has been provoking war with Russia for decades, while simultaneously ignoring and undermining peace overtures. However murderous and illegal the Russian invasion is, (and all wars are murderous, nearly all are illegal) Russia’s invasion was a provoked response to the bigger, more murderous and illegal game plan of the US empire – in which “overextending” and defeating Russia is only one small part of the picture.
So yes, Russia illegally invaded Ukraine – but did so with a gun to its head, or in this case, nuclear-compatible missiles. This was a moderate response compared to the US mobilization for immediate nuclear war when the roles were reversed, and Russian nukes were at our doorstep in the Cuban missile crisis.
Fortunately, Khrushchev and Kennedy had the good sense to immediately back off and negotiate. That’s what we need to do now. Unfortunately the US has repeatedly refused Russia’s attempts at dialogue, from ignoring Russia’s protest to NATO’s first expansion, (1999) to bypassing the Minsk accord, disrupting a tentative peace plan brokered by Turkey just after the war began, & more.
But instead of engaging peace overtures, the US has been throwing billions in weapons and economic aid to keep the war effort alive, even blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline- it appears – to prevent Germany from backing out in the face of economic disaster caused by sanctions against Russian gas. The US should be investigating not celebrating this disastrous act of terrorism to determine who in fact is responsible. The failure to do so speaks volumes.
The nuclear threat produced by all of this is an emergency of the highest order. Yet our leaders are playing a game of nuclear chicken, and pretending nuclear war is winnable. If a mere 100 nuclear bombs are detonated, much of the world population will perish in nuclear famine[v] that results from debris blocking enough sunlight to prevent food from growing for years following a nuclear explosion. Since nuclear weapons are on hair trigger alert and enabled with automatic launch programs, it’s likely the threshold for nuclear winter would be vastly exceeded, with the results terminating human civilization. Taking out Moscow, for example, would automatically trigger retaliation by all their nukes. US is presumed to have a similar trip wire for nuclear Armageddon.
Needless to say, the Ukraine conflict also accelerates the destruction of the climate, which is already at the brink of collapse. Perhaps worst of all for the climate, war destroys the global cooperation that’s essential for tackling emissions. It’s no surprise that declining global emissions – which must be cut in half by 2030 to avoid accelerating climate disaster – have done an about face and are now on track for an increase of over 10% this decade.
So the bottom line is this: the Ukraine war – & the war machine it’s a part of – are endangering and impoverishing us all. Martin Luther King had it right not only about the US being the greatest purveyor of violence, but also that militarism doesn’t stand alone. It’s joined at the hip in the triple evil of militarism, racism & materialism. That’s why the crisis of empire is inseparable from the crisis of racial and economic inequality, and the crisis of democracy that allows our policies to be bought and paid for by the highest bidders – in this case Wall Street and the war profiteers who profit from the carnage.
On each of these crises we’ve hit the breaking point. For that reason, & for the practical matter of achieving critical mass – we need a broad movement for both peace, justice and democracy in order to dismantle the war machine. As a first step, we need an immediate cease fire and negotiations to ensure the security and autonomy of all parties, as provided for in the Minsk accords. This is not rocket science.
As Frederick Douglas said, power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will. We’re here today to build that demand until it cannot be denied. Our very lives depend on it.
[iv] Up to Six Million People The Unrecorded Fatalities of the ‘War on Terror’- 2021.09.15 Nafeez Ahmed https://bylinetimes.com/2021/09/15/up-to-six-million-people-the-unrecorded-fatalities-of-the-war-on-terror/
[v] https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-022-00573-0 Global food insecurity and famine from reduced crop, marine fishery and livestock production due to climate disruption from nuclear war soot injection NATuRe FOOd | VOL 3 | AUGUST 2022 | 586–596 | www.nature.com/natfood