FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Surplus Military

by

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the distribution of military hardware to state and local police. Great. Now can we have a review of the distribution of military influence throughout US society?

What we’ve learned so far is that under a federal program, more than $5 billion worth of military equipment has gone to more than 8,000 city and state agencies since 1997. I found out this weekend that one small town not far from me received six military HumVees for a police department where just 25 officers work.

Mine-resistant trucks aren’t the only war tools showing up in US suburbs. Take those gunshot wounds. Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot by a police in Ferguson August 9, was shot six times, twice in the head. Ever wonder why so many gun shot victims show up with multiple bullets in their flesh?  It’s certainly the cop, it’s also the gun.

As the Atlantic Magazine reported this summer, every time that Congress pays a military contractor to develop a new killer weapon for the battlefield, it almost at once shows up at High Street gun shops – and in Hollywood movies, like Lethal Weapon 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Obama’s review has been sparked by public shock at images from Ferguson, but what do people think happens when war profiteers dominate the marketplace, the media and Congress?

There’s a lot of surplus out there because defense contractors lobby for it. The top five companies spent more than $65 million last year persuading Congress to cancel promised cuts. As a result the 2014  budget gave them everything they asked for, including the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapon system ever, and a tank that we already know that nobody wants.

Weapons makers don’t just do war work of course. Lockheed Martin, the maker of that costly fighter, has also snapped up government contracts to do data collection for everyone from the Postal Service to the IRS, despite a history of fraud.

Now the country’s SWAT teams are lobbying to keep their military surplus and there’s about to be more of it because Congress is already hearing the Pentagon’s $555 billion budget for next year, isn’t sufficient, in light of the threat posed by the Islamic State. That’s good news for the SWAT teams and probably for ISIS. In Syria and Iraq, ISIS has seized an arsenal of US military gear –  even more than the Ferguson police!

So by all means yes, let’s examine the surplus program. But let’s not stop at that. And while we’re at it, Obama says the review will be done by White House Staff and “relevant” agencies including Homeland Security and the Departments of Defense. We can guess what will come of that. How about the residents in towns with all this firepower review the program?  Especially the ones who’ve been shocked, not just by the images  — but by the experience of having police point assault rifles at their heads.

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail