FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Surplus Military

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. 

More articles by:

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

August 10, 2020
Gerald Sussman
Biden’s Ukrainegate Problem
Vijay Prashad – Érika Ortega Sanoja
How the U.S. Failed at Its Foreign Policy Toward Venezuela
Daniel Warner
Geneva: The Home of Lost Causes
Mike Hastie
The Police Force Stampede in Portland on August 8, 2020 
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s Executive Orders: EOs as PR and FUs
Rev. William Alberts
Cognitive Without Conscience
David Altheide
Politicizing Fear Through the News Media
F. Douglas Stephenson
Is Big Pharma More Interested in Profiteering Than Protecting Us From Coronavirus?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Money Plague
Howard Lisnoff
Revolutionaries Living in a System of Growing Fascism
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump is Defeating Himself
Lynnette Grey Bull
The Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Human Rights Emergency is Not a Photo-Op for Ivanka Trump
Victor Grossman
Some Come, Others Go
Binoy Kampmark
Death From the Sky: Hiroshima and Normalised Atrocities
The Stop Golden Rice Network
Why We Oppose Golden Rice
Michael D. Knox
After Nagasaki, the U.S. Did Not Choose Peace
Elliot Sperber
A Tomos 
Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail