The Streets Are Empty

Hardly anyone gives a damn about military adventures anymore. When the US continues its presence in war-torn Syria, when US global presence expands across the world with over 700 military bases, when NATO pushes against the borders of Russia, when US military strategy calls for encircling China (“This is no exercise-US wants to encircle China with actual troops,”RT, June 10, 2021, “Biden’s First Summit Focuses on Russia and China,” New York Times, June 14, 2021)) with more troops, more ships, and more military bases, no one raises an eyebrow. It is the lone wolf who dares to raise the guns v butter argument these days and those left over from the once-vibrant peace and anti-war movements have been far outstripped by the careerists and the cult of self. College campuses reflect little idealism and college students wonder when student debt relief is coming. Post-9/11, no discussion of anything as quaint as the laws of war or the Geneva Convention takes place in the US, and a once-vibrant peace movement no longer exists. All wars are moral these days and the government knows exactly what each one of us is doing and if we dare to address the issues of war and peace.

Just as globalization moved jobs first to the US South and then to Southeast Asia, the Far East, and Mexico, never to return, I fear that any hope for peace or movement toward peace and funding domestic needs are relics of the past also never destined to return.

Nuclear weapons are refurbished and modernized and US weapons pour into the tinder box of the Middle East. Biden is the consummate cold warrior and is no better than Trump when the light of day shines on the US military budget, up $10 billion from FY2021 at $705 billion to FY2022 at $715 billion. And it’s anybody’s guess how much money goes to secret operations around the world carried out by the CIA and other agencies? It’s mind- boggling!

The last major outcry against the incessant war-making ability of the US came 18 years ago with the pushback against the US war in Iraq that left a lethal civil war on the ground, torture, and regime change. Notice that civil liberties in the US were further diminished during that time by the administration of George W. Bush. Whistleblowers from that era and later were taught a lesson by the government and about the government’s penchant for shutting up critics of its massive military outlays and expeditions. Meanwhile, so-called defense industries don’t have to go begging Congress or whatever administration occupies the White House for socialism for the rich and well armed.

Chris Hedges, always the most astute of critics of the foibles of US society and militarism, and an award-winning journalist, discusses “The Cult Of The Self,” (YouTube, April 4, 2021). This cult of hyper-individualism and longing for celebrity status is one direction in which US society moves while pressing needs go unmet and militarism goes unchecked.

The most significant presence, and one of only a few,  on the streets of the US are Black Lives Matter protests in reaction to police violence.

Unsettling is the best way to describe CovertAction’s June 12, 2021 article “Was January 6th a Dress Rehearsal for a Coup d’État in the US?” Without significant protest against the far-right juggernaut, those on the left could be up to our necks in trouble.

Now, drought conditions continue to plague the US West, the wildfire season has already begun in Arizona, temperatures here in the Northeast are like an amusement park roller coaster, jet trails increasingly paint the sky as the economy begins its climb to pre-pandemic levels, fossil fuel subsidies go on, and the military continues as a major polluter.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).