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More than just Gaza

The truth of global militarization

The tragedy of Israel bombing Gaza is not just about Gaza. It is about the militarization of Israel, the U.S. and, by extension, the rest of the world. It’s a process that goes on behind a cloud of lies and deceptions that are repeated by mainstream media.

Gaza is an example of how the media is part of and protects the interests of the 1 percent. Israel’s aggression against Gaza is portrayed as Israel’s need to defend itself. We are not told what the Israeli military did to provoke a militant response from Hamas. We are not even supposed to imagine that Palestinians have a right to defend themselves, too. Because we do not hear about Israel’s long-range Zionist goal of eliminating Arabs from the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, we lack a context for understanding what is happening in Gaza.

We are supposed to see Israel as the victim. That way, we will not know that this invasion of Gaza was planned for months. Nor will we look at what Israel is doing daily in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to steal the land, destroy the trees, demolish the homes, imprison the youth and cut the supply of water. We will not understand that we taxpayers are paying for the bombs that fall on Gaza, the Caterpillar bulldozers that are retrofitted to demolish Palestinian homes, the drones that pick out the targets in Gaza, because the U.S. gives Israel $3 billion a year in military/economic aid — the largest aid package in the world.

We need to ask ourselves why, and question this use of our resources.

In addition, Gaza is the victim of the flourishing arms industry and trading in arms by many countries, including Israel and the U.S. (read author Victor Thorn), and the need to keep testing new war toys. The siege and war on Gaza are part of the trend toward global militarization and away from democratization, as powerful elites attempt to hold on to power.

We, who oppose war and want sustainable communities, must work hard to counter what is happening to Gaza and connect it with other issues of destruction and oppression. Here are a few of those issues.

Outsourcing jobs to countries with cheaper labor also means allowing poor working conditions. Two deadly fires recently in Bangladeshi clothing factories that supply Walmart and other U.S. stores are a case in point. When those workers demand their rights, Bangladeshi police will need more weapons to control them.

Our financial crisis has caused unemployment and home foreclosures in the U.S. (and in Europe), and the measures taken by banks and our government do not create jobs and save homes, but benefit the 1 percent while throwing more and more people out of work and home. How is it possible to rebuild our economy if people have no jobs?

The Bush administration re-opened Guantanamo Prison, off shore and out of reach in Cuba, where we could secretly torture and abuse men suspected of being terrorists and where the Obama administration still holds 163 men, defending their indefinite detention without trial. Obama also authorizes the use of targeted assassination of suspected terrorists thus eliminating any possibility of capture, arrest and trial. Does this reflect American laws and values?

In 1949, the USA founded the School of the Americas, still operating today under a new name. Now called WHINSEC, it is located within an American army base in Georgia. Its sole purpose is to train military and police from Latin American countries in “counter-insurgency” tactics. Its graduates have been involved in almost every incidence of torturing, disappearing and murdering citizens who protest what their government is doing. The victims are labor leaders, teachers, intellectuals, students and advocates for the poor. How is such programmed brutality kept out of our sight so that many of us have never heard of the School of the Americas/WHINSEC?

The Keystone XL Pipeline is to be built across the U.S. from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico to bring petroleum extracted from tar sand deposits in the north. Many people in the path of this pipeline are protesting day and night because the pipeline will cost millions of dollars to build, will run dangerously close to a major aquifer and go through pristine prairie lands habitat for many species. It might leak, as is frequently the case with petroleum pipelines. How much of this fuel is needed by our military, which consumes about 20 million gallons of fuel a day?

A militarized world is not a democratic world. The destructive behaviors of corporations and governments create enemies among the people they oppress. Thus the oppressors need more weapons to control restive populations. And they need the media to keep us, the 99 percent, confused and uninformed.

If we want a voice in how our communities and our world will operate, we must get involved.

Sherrill Hogen, a Conway resident, is an activist for peace and justice, and a frequent visitor to Palestine. You can read her commentaries at www.newsfromsherrill.blogspot.com

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