But the upper echelons of the military remain almost exclusively a white-boys' club (of the 41 senior commanders, only two are Black and only one is a woman). No wonder studies show that police with military experience, especially those who have deployed overseas, are significantly more likely to be involved in shooting incidents than those with no military service. Closing the 800-plus overseas military bases alone would save $100 billion a year. The police and military are both internally plagued by racism. Police budgets account for an astronomical percentage of cities' discretionary funds compared to other crucial community programs, ranging from 20 to 45 percent of discretionary funding in major metropolitan areas. The power of the military-industrial complex has become far more dangerous than even President Eisenhower himself feared when he warned the nation, in 1961, against its undue influence. Stopping oil pipelines and toppling Columbus statues shows how Indigenous resistance can also be renewed in the heart of the empire. This is just one example of the surveillance society that the U.S. has become since 9/11. These lobbies for military contractors have become more powerful and influential not only over the budget but also over the creation of U.S. foreign policy. The 2020 military budget of $738 billion is larger than those of the next 10 countries combined. They also offer relatively high salaries, good benefits and union protections, which is why one in five police officers is a veteran. ------------------------------------------, endless series of wars the U.S. military has fought abroad, view of the world that dehumanizes foreign peoples, long been imported to suppress dissent at home, The militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, Closing the 800-plus overseas military bases alone, high salaries, good benefits and union protections, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran", Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection, Unlikely Alliances: Native Nations and White Communities Join to Defend Rural Lands, Asserting Native Resilience: Pacific Rim Indigenous Nations Face the Climate Crisis. He also decried the xenophobia resulting from turning our immigration debate into a debate about Americans' personal security, pitting millions of U.S. citizens against undocumented and even documented immigrants. If we find indiscriminate state violence in our streets appalling, we should feel similarly about state violence abroad, and call for divesting from both police and the Pentagon, and reinvesting those taxpayer dollars to rebuild communities at home and abroad. The same pattern is true with the Pentagon budget. The HBO host was enraged and tearful in an episode of Last Week Tonight focused on police … Lobbying machines solidify support for police and war industry funding. Since George Floyd was murdered, we have seen an increasing convergence of the "war at home" against Black and brown people with the "wars abroad" that the U.S. has waged against people in other countries. But that is now beginning to change. Sending in soldiers trained for combat only makes a bad situation worse, and this can open the eyes of Americans to the shocking violence with which the U.S. military tries, but often fails, to quell dissent in occupied countries. The protests to "Defund the Police" have compelled Americans to see beyond police reform to a radical reconceiving of public safety. Instead of seeing these as two separate but related demands, we should see them as intimately linked, since the racialized police violence on our streets and the racialized violence the U.S. has long inflicted on people around the world are mirror reflections of each other. Likewise, until recently, calling for cuts to U.S. military expenditure was a great taboo in Washington. And in turn, if police and armed far-right militias and mercenaries can commit violence with impunity in the homeland, it normalizes and enables even greater violence elsewhere. Every year billions of dollars are funneled from U.S. taxpayers to hundreds of arms corporations, who then wage lobbying campaigns pushing for even more foreign military aid and weapons sales. We can learn more about the war at home by studying the wars abroad, and learn more about the wars abroad by studying the war at home. When they return from Iraq or Afghanistan, they discover that one of the few employers that give priority to veterans are police departments and security companies. Nearly 80 percent of people in federal prison and almost 60 percent of people in state prison for drug offenses are Black or Latinx. U.S. police kill about 1,000 people per year, disproportionately in the Black community and other communities of color. The military-industrial complex similarly uses its lobbying muscle to keep politicians compliant with its wishes. Prioritizing the police and military means deprioritizing resources for community needs. Manufacturing weapons has provided millions of workers with some of the nation's highest industrial wages, and many of their unions (such as the Machinists) are part of the Pentagon lobby. The same relationship of repression at home and abroad is true of torture techniques, which were taught to militaries and police throughout Latin America during the Cold War. The 9/11 attacks precipitated hate crimes against Muslims and Sikhs, as well as a federally imposed travel ban that denies entrance to the U.S. for people from entire countries, separating families, depriving students of access to universities, and detaining immigrants in private prisons. Even President Dwight Eisenhower described military spending in 1953 as "a theft from those who hunger and are not fed.". The so-called War on Drugs has devastated communities of color, particularly the Black community, leading to catastrophic levels of gun violence and mass incarceration. The Washington Post reported that if the U.S. spent the same proportion of its GDP on its military as most European countries do, it "could fund a universal child-care policy, extend health insurance to the approximately 30 million Americans who lack it, or provide substantial investments in repairing the nation's infrastructure." Throughout South America, the Caribbean and Afghanistan in both drug production and trafficking areas, U.S.-supported wars have only empowered organized crime and drug cartels, leading to an upsurge of violence, corruption, impunity, erosion of rule of law and massive human rights violations. Police should not be in charge of mental health crises. The "Manifest Destiny" colonization of Native lands morphed into overseas imperial expansion, including the seizure of Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other colonies, and the counterinsurgency wars in the Philippines and Vietnam. All rights reserved. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC. ), Both the military and the police suck up enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars that should be used for building a just, sustainable and equitable society. The use of unaccountable mercenaries abroad also makes their use more likely at home, as when Blackwater private security contractors were flown from Baghdad to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to be used against the devastated Black community. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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