FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The South at War

In 1938, President Roosevelt commissioned an investigation into conditions in the U.S. South – and he didn’t like what he saw. “The low income belt of the South,” the study somberly concluded, “is a belt of sickness, misery, and unnecessary death.”

Yet only six years later, the U.S. War Production Board made its own appraisal, and saw a completely different region: “The South has rubbed Aladdin’s lamp,” they said, poised to enter “the vanguard of world industrial progress.”

Connecting these warring views of the South’s fortunes, of course, was World War II – the moment where the U.S. South made the devil’s bargain of getting a quick economic fix, in exchange for becoming the heart of the nation’s military-industrial complex.

Today, the South remains at the center of the U.S. war economy. More than any other part of the country, the region is ensnared by President Bush’s anti-terror crusade, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the expansion of U.S. military power abroad. For example:

The South represents only a third of the nation’s population, but supplies 42% of the country’s enlisted soldiers – and 56% of troops in the continental U.S. are stationed in the South.

Southern politicians are Congress’s biggest hawks, tilting U.S. foreign policy away from peace and diplomacy. 62% of Southern senators scored in the bottom fifth of the legislative scorecard for Peace Action, a non-profit watchdog.

Anchored by defense boom centers in Virginia, Texas and Florida, the South produces more weapons than any other region, landing 43% of U.S. arms contracts in 2001.

Based on these findings and more, the Institute for Southern Studies took to the road in April-May for “The South at War” tour, drawing on the Institute’s most recent issue of Southern Exposure magazine, “Missiles and Magnolias: The South at War.” The tour visited such military hot-spots as Atlanta, Georgia, and Fort Worth/Dallas Texas.

“The costs of administering U.S. empire have been high,” says Jordan Green, a Southern Exposure editor and Institute researcher. “Not only to victims of U.S. aggression abroad, but also in warping social priorities here at home.”

As conflict spirals in the Middle East, a special focus of the tour was the South’s close ties to Israel’s illegal 35-year occupation and recent offensive in Palestinian territories, which has drawn widespread condemnation from the world community and human rights advocates including former President Jimmy Carter.

Of the $3 to $6 billion in financial support the U.S. government provides to Israel each year, up to half is used to buy arms, mostly from U.S. weapons manufacturers. Over two-thirds of the arms used by Israel come from Southern arms corporations, led by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, which recently landed a $1.3 billion award to build the F-16 jet fighter, one of several U.S. weapons used by Israel against U.N. conventions in occupied Palestinian territory.

“Southerners and U.S. taxpayers are not only footing the bill, but also supplying the firepower for Israeli aggression that most of the world is calling a crime against humanity,” says Rania Masri, an Institute project director who was also a delegate to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. “Our campuses and cities must examine their relationship to corporations who profit from Israel’s illegal occupation and violence against Palestinians.”

“The South is the heart of the military beast,” says Jordan Green. “The tour was a chance to not only show the deadly consequences of the war economy, but to connect with the groundswell of home-grown opposition to permanent militarism.”

Chris Kromm is Director of the Institute for Southern Studies and Publisher of Southern Exposure. Copies of the recent SE issue “The South at War,” and the Institute report, “Arming the Occupation: The U.S. Arms Industry and Israel,” are available for $5 each by writing to SE/ISS, P.O. Box 531, Durham, NC 27702. He can be reached at: chris@southernstudies.org

 

More articles by:

November 21, 2018
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
Kenneth Surin
Return to Denver: Clouds on the Horizon
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu’s Ceasefire is Meant to Keep Gaza Imprisoned
John Steppling
Liar Liar
Bill Hackwell
Paradise Lost
Gary Leupp
“Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018
W. T. Whitney
Criminal Behavior: US May be Developing Biological Weapons
Zhivko Illeieff
How Media, Tech, and News Networks Normalize Trump’s Propaganda
NEVE GORDON - NICOLA PERUGINI
Migrant Caravan: Branding Migrants “Human Shields” Has a Deadly Motive
Wouter Hoenderdaal
Jordan Peterson’s Disturbing Views on Inequality
Dean Baker
Nicholas Kristof and the China Trade War
Colin Todhunter
Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology
November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail