Militarism Amok Part 1: Iran, the Border, the Bomb, & More

[Dear friends, In The Shalom Center’s #FreedomSeder50 on April 7, aside from my commitment to draw the broad intention and outlines of the Seder, my chief assignment inside the event itself was to speak on the deadly danger of “Militarism.” 

{In my talk I pointed out that the Trump regime had brought about a brutal resurgence of Militarism at every level from nuclear weaponry to gun murders in our schools, houses of worship, and neighborhoods.

[Two aspects of that evening stirred fear in me of what was coming next on Military Road.  Those two threats have amped up since.

[One of these resurgent militarisms, I pointed out, was the emergence of a Triple Alliance pressing for a US war against Iran. The Triple Alliance is made up of the Trump regime in the US, the Netanyahoo government of Israel, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (often called “MbS”).

[Even since that evening, just six weeks ago, threats from the Trump regime of war against Iran have gotten worse. So dangerous that I want to share with you in a separate letter my thoughts on this threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for Iranians, other Middle Easterners, and Americans.

[Meanwhile, literally two hours before our #FreedomSeder50 began, the news broke that Mr. Trump had fired Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen and the head of ICE for not being tough enough. This is a bad omen, I thought. Will DHS become Trump’s personal quasi-military police force, usable at whim?

Now, more than a month later,  the Washington Post reports they were fired because they opposed a plan Trump (urged on by Stephen Miller) wanted done: ICE and DHS were  to raid and  sweep  thousands of immigrant and refugee families in several large cities into camps or deportation. “Does he want Kristallnacht?” I thought.

[My talk at the #FreedomSeder50 was an over-all look at a tsunami of Militarism flooding from the White House into every level of our country. It is too long to send you in one gulp. Here is the first installment. --  AW, editor]

On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was murdered,  Dr. Martin Luther King gave his most profound speech. He called it "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”  He called out three deadly triplets endangering America: Racism, Militarism, and Materialism.  Those three triplets plus one more --  Sexism =-- define the structure of this Interfaith #Freedom Seder50.

“Why “triplets”? Why not just "three" or "Triad" or "trio"?  Triplets share DNA in a way that other threes do not. So, what is the DNA that these three triplets – now quadruplets – –share? The DNA of subjugation. Of forcing others to do what you want.

The ultimate form of subjugation is killing people who do not do what you want. Especially people who are acting with compassion, creating beloved communities. The murder of Dr. King at just the moment when he was resisting the Vietnam War, championing the garbage workers of Memphis, and beginning to plan the first Poor People’s Campaign crystallized in one terrible moment the long history of top-down American violence, top-down American racism, top-down American materialistic greed. Subjugation. The opposite of freedom. Of justice. Of democracy. The opposite of love.

So let us reawaken what Dr. King said about militarism:

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: Burning human beings with napalm, ...  injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

Where are we now, 52 years later?

The present US government has undertaken a a 30-year military program that will cost ONE TRILLION DOLLARS  on top of what we have come to assume is the “normal” Pentagon budget. To do what? To “modernize” a new generation of US nuclear weaponry. Already the US has 7,000 nuclear weapons, enough to wipe out life on this planet. But we must have more. Including new so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons for use not to deter wars but to fight them on the battle-field.

If militarism is the ultimate in subjugation, H-bombs are the ultimate in militarism. Already the United States has 7,000 nuclear weapons, enough to wipe out life on this planet. But we must have more. We must have redesigned nuclear warheads, new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs and production plants. New so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons for use not to deter wars but to fight them on the battle-field.

At a moment when armies on battlefields are already not the way wars are being fought, but with computer interference, with covert fake news on social media, with hate-filled men and women recruited into terrorism, with drones assigned to kill – sometimes a guerrilla band, sometimes a wedding party – with no accountability.

This TRILLION-DOLLAR PLAN for a brand-new H-bomb arsenal has received almost no attention by the mass media.  NOT a single question about it was asked by any reporter in a single one of all those Presidential Debates in 2016.  In this it shares the deafening silence with the climate crisis – the two problems most likely to annihilate the human race, and not a single question about either one in 2016.

So our government is cloaked in silence while it prepares the war of utter desolation, the Flood of Fire that will consume the Earth. Still in the future. But let us not ignore the so-called limited wars where we can already watch the blood already shedding:

What many call the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet now, the War Against Yemen carried out by the Saudi government. In five years, thousands killed by bombs from the air, more than 8 million Yemenis — a third of the population — already on the brink of famine.  Children dying even more from hunger than from bombs. Hunger created by the bombs that prevent food supplies from entering the country.

 A war made in Saudi Arabia, out of hatred against Shia Islam and fear of the Shia majority in the people of Yemen. A war carried out by order of a Prince of Darkness, himself not metaphorically but physically and individually a murderer, patted on the back by the ruling US family because he brings in cash, because he brings in oil. So a war technologically enabled and entooled by the United States.

 Could we instead create a crash program in producing energy from sun and wind instead of oil? Of course we could. But that would shatter the structures of the Corporate Carbon Pharaohs. It would return the supply of life-giving energy to neighborhoods and families. . The spiritual deformity of Greed buys an all too bodily murder, The spiritual deformity of Greed buys an all too bodily war. The spiritual deformity of Greed prepares an all too bodily global mass murder of billions of human beings and a million species.

Another humanitarian crisis:  the suffering of Gaza. Weapons made in America make up the tools of sporadic outright war and slowly strangling blockade.  The new Triple Alliance --  white nationalists in Washington, those in Ryadh who fear and hate Shia Muslims,  and an Israeli government  that moves toward annexing Palestinian land and welcomes Kahaneist racists into its governing circles -- are stirring like Macbeth’s witches in each capital the pot to cook a war against Iran --

For a swarm of bloody trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, triple toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

Another number in the litany of militarism: Despite recently closing hundreds of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad. Britain, France and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined. In 2016, China had three and India seven.

What are these bases doing? Are they defending the American people, or propping up violent and repressive dictators in a myriad other countries – using US militarism to give powerful and perverted birth not to new life, as birth is supposed to do, but to more death?  We don’t know, because most of us don’t know about the bases.

And we are turning our own local and some national police departments into military bases.

At the national level, the Border Patrol on the Southern border of the US has been militarized as if we were facing an invading army, as Mr. Trump has frequently described those families and children seeking asylum from murderous gangs and governments in their own country. The US Army itself has been sent to patrol the border, and its funding is being diverted – an unconstitutional invasion of the Congressional power of the purse – to build a militarized wall along the border.

And now we know that what the President really wants is for ICE, the Border Police, and all of the Department of Homeland Security to snatch thousands of families from jobs, homes, schools; to put them in detention camps; to deport them.  -- 

What shall we do? This is one of the reasons that I think that faith leaders need to gather at the White House on June 12, in Jeremiah’s name. But let me pause here; I will unfold the rest of my concern about Militarism  next week.