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anti-militarism

Ukraine: neither NATO nor Moscow!

By staff - Anarchist Communist Group, January 29, 2022

The Western media is pounding the drum for a conflict between Putin’s Russia and the Western powers over Ukraine.

Let us be clear. Vladimir Putin leads a gangster regime in Russia, sometimes referred to as a kleptocracy (rule by thieves). He runs an oppressive regime and as an ex-high up in the Russian secret police, the KGB, he has extremely close relations with its latest incarnation, the FSB (Federal Service Bureau of the Russian Federation). He has come down heavily on any form of opposition, and the anarchist movement in Russia has suffered, with anarchist militants, arrested tortured and given heavy prison sentences. The Putin regime is massing large numbers of troops on Ukraine’s borders for a number of reasons. The domestic situation is far from healthy and the Covid pandemic has aggravated this. Putin is wary of growing discontent and hopes that his belligerent attitude will unite the Russian masses behind him and make them forget their economic woes. This is a gamble, as the Russian masses are in general not keen to engage in warfare with their fellow Slavs in Ukraine, and remember the disastrous consequences of the war in Afghanistan, when Russian troops sent in to save the pro-Russian regime there were bogged down for years with massive casualties.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of republics emerged that had separated from the Russian Federation. Among these was Ukraine, the largest in terms of landmass and the most important in terms of industrial development, an industrial development that had reached its climax under Stalin and his successors.

The fall of the Soviet Union seriously weakened Russia but thanks to rising oil prices coupled with the rise to power of Putin, it began to re-assert itself. It was determined to control and influence the surrounding countries on its borders, both for defence reasons and to re-affirm its control over those regions which it had established after World War Two.

The political-military alliance it had established with its satellites, the Warsaw Pact, was dissolved. However, the corresponding political-military alliance developed by the United States and the Western European powers, NATO, was not wound up and remains an instrument of both the USA and various component Western countries. In fact, NATO sought to increase its influence and has intervened in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. Despite promising the Russian regime that it would not expand its influence east of what was East Germany, it has invested its forces in the countries surrounding Russia, including the Baltic States.

NATO is an aggressive military machine, not a body there to passively defend the West. It has intervened in Libya, in Afghanistan and Iraq. It actively seeks to recruit not just former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia into its alliance, but also so called neutral countries like Finland and Sweden, both very close to Russia. It demands that each component country of NATO spends at least 2% of its Gross Domestic Product on military expenditure.

The Climate Mobilization Victory Plan

By Ezra Silk - The Climate Mobilization, July 2020

“Civilization is on the verge of collapse due to climate change, income inequality and ecological overshoot. Our political system is in the hands of a tiny elite class profiting off this triple crisis, and too oblivious to slam the brakes on the system before it all comes crashing down.

“Ordinary people must form a nonviolent movement to spark the just emergency transition we need to save our children and avert total collapse. Armed with the truth, people won’t stay scared and passive. They will rise up to reclaim honor and dignity, going all in to fight for all life.

“This is our social movement strategy in a nutshell. To find out how it all works, read our Blueprint for a Climate Emergency Movement: a plan for how we can escalate and win the fight for the emergency transition we need.

“This is a general plan for how this movement could operate, grow and succeed in any political context. The exact timing or mechanism of change is impossible to predict given current levels of political and climatic volatility. Movements grow nonlinearly and can scale up rapidly when they catch the popular imagination, and we will constantly be on the lookout for ways to move even faster….”

Read the text (PDF).

Fighting the wrong battles: how obsession with military power diverts resources from the climate crisis

By Sam Perlo-Freeman - Campaign Against Arms Trade, February 15, 2020

The first duty of government, it is often said, is to provide for the security of its people. But what is security? For whom, and from what? UK governments typically view security through a military lens; but the real threats affecting the security of people in the UK and worldwide, most urgently the climate crisis, are not susceptible to military force, and indeed military interventions by the UK and its allies this century have had an overwhelmingly disastrous impact on peace and security.

The central role of the military in the government’s understanding of security is reflected in budgetary allocations. There is thus a widespread consensus on maintaining military spending at a minimum of 2% of GDP, the NATO target, with many politicians calling for far higher levels. Meanwhile, the climate crisis, the most urgent threat to human security worldwide, receives far less funding.

Military security or sustainable security

This report argues for a shift of focus both in understanding of security and in resources away from military security and towards a concept of sustainable security that prioritises the security of people over that of states and addresses the underlying causes of conflict and insecurity. In particular, the climate crisis needs to be treated as the urgent, devastating and present threat to human security that it is, with resources allocated accordingly.

Arguments for higher military spending typically start from the premise that the world is an ever more dangerous place. While this contains an element of truth, such arguments are based on a narrow and fundamentally flawed understanding of security centred on military power. The conclusion that what is needed is greater military force from the west is fallacious. Indeed, it has often been the actions of the UK and its allies that have made the world more dangerous, as in Iraq.

Non-military security challenges are minimised or ignored. Climate change, for example, is barely mentioned in the Government’s most recent Strategic Defence and Security Review. When mentioned, they are often framed in terms of the impact on national security, and approached with ‘hard’ security responses, such as militarised borders to deal with mass migration. Meanwhile, ambitions for the UK to retain or regain status as a ‘great military power’, able to project military force around the world, are presented as essential requirements for security, on a par with ensuring the survival and sovereignty of the nation.

Read the text (PDF).

South East and East Asia Peasant Women extend unconditional solidarity to villagers resisting THAAD missile system in South Korea

By staff - La Via Campesina, February 6, 2018

In 2016, the Korean government agreed with the US to place the American built anti-ballistic missile system THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Air Defense) in the quiet town of Seongju South Korea. The then government of South Korea headed by conservative president Park Geun-hye, steamrollered the project through a hasty environmental review during her last months in office. This weapons system will threaten peace in the world, particularly in South Korea and North East Asia, apart from facilitating the spread of US hegemony in this region. It is harmful to human health and the environment. A majority of the Korean people are absolutely opposed to this government’s unilateral policy decision. Korean peasants’ organisations have been consistently opposing the project as its threatens peace and stability in the region.

At the Regional Women Workshop of La Via Campesina South East and East Asia, held in January 2018, the peasant leaders from several countries in the region unanimously condoned the project, visited the communities affected and extended solidarity to the residents of the village that is at the forefront of the resistance against this missile program. Here is the complete statement that came out after participants visited the affected region.

Reasons To Divest From The War Machine And Week Of Action

By Code Pink - Popular Resistance, January 16, 2018

Reasons to Divest from the War Machine NOW

The military industrial complex dominates U.S. spending, and spreads death and destruction at home and abroad. Here are a few reasons why we need to throw a wrench in their machine:

Military Spending is Stealing from Each of Us

Excessive military spending in the U.S. is undermining the well-being of our people and starving our non-military sectors. The cost of U.S. domestic and foreign militarism in 2016 totaled $741.3 billion: 64 percent of discretionary spending. Meanwhile, many of our cities are in ruins. Our public transportation systems are in shambles. Our educational system is in steep decline and being privatized. Opioid addiction, suicide, mass shootings, and hunger plague a country that has sunk into profound despair and poverty. Weapons don’t house us, don’t clothe us, don’t help us get to work, and don’t cure our diseases. The U.S. must shift its priorities away from building more bombs, and toward educating, feeding, housing, and healing our people.

The War Machine is in Our Streets – and More Frequently Aimed at Citizens

The brutality abroad is matched by a growing brutality at home. Militarized police gun down mostly unarmed, poor people of color and fill a system of penitentiaries and jails. Over 5 billion dollars worth of military grade equipment and weapons have been transferred to local police forces since the 1990s. Over 15,000 people in the U.S. died from gun violence in 2017 alone, with the overall gun-death rate for black males standing at roughly double what it is for white males. It is the same war machine killing, harming, and oppressing poor people of color around the world as is killing, harming, and oppressing poor people of color here at home.

U.S. Wars are About Power and Profit

War is good for business. Last year, when the Pentagon was given more than $600 billion, one of the highest levels since World War II, about half of that amount — $304 billion — went directly to corporations. As the U.S. remains engaged in seven active conflicts and as tensions rise with countries such as: Iran, North Korea, and Russia; military stocks have risen 40% in the past year alone. War is a tool for asserting military and economic dominance, and protecting the interests of military contractors — not the lives of ordinary citizens.

The U.S. Exports Militarism, at the Expense of Women’s Human Rights

Seymour Melman and the New American Revolution: a Reconstructionist Alternative to a Society Spiraling into the Abyss

By Jonathan Feldman - CounterPunch, December 29, 2017

American Capitalism in Decline

On December 30, 1917 Seymour Melman was born in New York City.  The 100th anniversary of his birth helps bring his intellectual legacy into focus.  Melman was the most significant reconstructionist thinker of the 20th Century, championing alternatives to militarism, capitalism, and social decay by advancing a systematic counter-planning program for disarmament and economic democracy.  His legacy remains of critical importance because today the United States is currently a society in which the economic, political and cultural systems are spiraling into an abyss.  Economic and social reconstruction is the idea that planned alternatives to the incumbent mechanisms for organizing economic, political and cultural power exist in alternative institutional designs and matching systems to extend these designs.

The economic realities are well-known, defined by an economic system in which the richest 1% of the population controlled 38.6% of the nation’s wealth in 2016 according to the Federal Reserve.  The bottom 90% controlled only 22.8% of the wealth.  This wealth concentration is well-known and is linked to financialization of the U.S. economy which is matched by deindustrialization and the decline of the “real economy.” Melman analyzed this problem tied to Wall Street hegemony and managerial attacks on worker’s power in his classic 1983 study Profits without Production.  Here Melman illustrated how profits –and thus power—could be accumulated despite the decline of industrial work and manufacturing.  In fact, the rise in administrative overheads associated with the over-extension of managerial power actually helped reduce both the competiveness and competence of U.S. firms.

In politics, the Republican Party has emerged as a Trojan Horse society, helping to defund the welfare state and advancing the aims of the predatory warfare state.  The 2018 defense bill signed by President Trump allotted about $634 billion for core Pentagon operations and allotted an addition $66 billion for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.  More money was available for troops, jet fighters, ships and other weapons, even though there are millions of U.S. citizens living in poverty (40.6 million in 2016).  Melman addressed the problem of the enduring post-war militarism of the U.S. in perhaps his most famous book, The Permanent War Economy, first published in 1974.  The subheading of that book was “American Capitalism in Decline.”  This economy emerged as way to consolidate the military largess bestowed on aerospace, communications, electronics and other war-serving industries, not to mention universities, military bases and associated institutions serving the military economy.  This corporatist system, linking the state, corporations, trade unions and other actors was described by Melman in Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, a 1971 book which showed how the state was the top manager who used its procurement and managerial power to direct these various “sub-managements.”

In culture, we see the reign of post-truth politics, in which politicians knowingly lie in order to advance political objectives and ideology makes facts irrelevant.  A report by David Leonhardt and colleagues in The New York Times found that “in his first 10 months, Trump told nearly six times as many falsehoods as Obama did during his entire presidency.”  The problem, however, is that the underlying system of U.S. governance has been based on many bipartisan myths.  Melman’s career was based on trying to uncover such myths.

One such myth embraced by both the Republican and Democratic Parties was the idea that military power can be used without any limits.  In Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. tried to defeat guerilla operations in which the opposing military was embedded in civilian zones.  Attacking such areas deflated the U.S. military’s legitimacy with the projection of military power undermining U.S. political power in the region being attacked.  In Vietnam, the U.S. lost politically and a backlash against that war triggered a domestic revolt.  In Iraq, the toppling of Hussein pushed Iraq into the Iranian orbit, a country which is nominally a principal adversary of U.S. elites. In Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to fight its longest war with thousands dead and “no end in sight.”  When it comes to terrorism, Melman saw terrorist actions as tied to alienation, individuals cut off and remote from social integration.  Clearly social inclusion could remedy such a situation, but economic decline and an absence of solidarity simply compounded terrorist threats (whatever the diverse origins).

Another key myth was the ability to organize and sustain a “post-industrial society.”  A report in Industry Week (August 21, 2014) noted that between 2001 and 2010, the U.S. economy shed 33% of its manufacturing jobs (about 5.8 million), which represented a 42% decline when controlling for the increase in the workforce.  After controlling for increased in the working-age population during this period, Germany lost only 11% of its manufacturing jobs.  While scholars debate whether trade or automation and productivity is more significant in causing such job loss, automation in a nation state serving to protect the domestic organization of work will clearly preserve more manufacturing jobs than others.  In fact, the integration of automation and cooperative workforces can preserve jobs, a point made by Melman in his last great work, After Capitalism: From Managerialism to Workplace Democracy.  Melman’s support for the domestic anchoring of jobs through proactive investments in civilian infrastructure including sustainable forms of alternative energy and mass transportation also belied the associated myths of globalization and free markets—both of which failed to automatically yield a proactive welfare state responsive to maintaining full and sustainable employment.

The tragedy of American science

By Cliff Connor - Socialist Action, April 17, 2017

The Earth Day 2017 March for Science signals resistance to Donald Trump’s sharp infusion of irrationality into the national discourse. Official support for climate-change denial and other anti-science agendas has suddenly become much more explicit. At the same time, many protestors recognize a continuity linking Trump’s bizarre bluster with a pre-existing condition sometimes referred to as the “Republican war on science.”

But the problems at the root of the tragedy of contemporary American science—its corporatization and militarization—are not ones for which either the Democratic or Republican parties can offer solutions.

Describing science as tragedy would have seemed peculiar to most people as recently as the first half of the 20th century. The reputation of science was then golden. The expectation that modern science could and soon would solve all of humanity’s problems was almost universal.

That benign image received a double jolt during the Second World War. First came the horrors of Nazi racial science and its accompanying technology of human extermination. That was followed by the advent of the nuclear age in the instant incineration of a hundred and thirty thousand inhabitants of two Japanese cities. J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the atomic bomb’s creators, invoked the name of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, to signal the emergence of science’s ominous dark side.

Chilcot inquiry: don’t mention the oil

By Greg Muttitt and David Whyte - Red Pepper, August 2016

The anti-war demonstration in London on 15 February 2003 was the biggest protest in British history. And probably the most popular slogan on the placards and banners that day was ‘No blood for oil’. It was a connection that seemed obvious to many on the march but was repeatedly ridiculed by supporters of the invasion of Iraq. Tony Blair said that ‘the oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it.’

Why is it so easy to dismiss the idea that access to oil and the interests of those who profit from it may be part of the motive for war? Why, given our experience of wars though the ages, is this not the first question we ask? After all, as the celebrated General Smedley Butler famously observed after completing numerous military campaigns on behalf of the nascent US empire: ‘War is a racket. It always has been.’

By the standards of an official inquiry, Chilcot’s was utterly damning of a government that took the country to war without justification. But compared to the evidence Chilcot had, his conclusions were mild, because the questions he asked were limited. In particular, while noting that there was no convincing case for WMD, even at the time, Chilcot failed to ask how other political and economic motivations affected decisions.

Was it a war for oil?

A year after the February 2003 demonstration, an international opinion poll conducted by US think tank, the Pew Research Centre, asked sample populations from nine countries (the US, Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco and Jordan) about the ‘war on terrorism’. The majority in all but two countries (the US and Britain) thought it was ‘to control Mideast oil’. It is worth underlining that the question was not just asking about the invasion of Iraq, but about the motive for a war on terrorism full stop.

When it comes to the Iraq war, they were right. Evidence released with the report shows unequivocally that using Iraqi oil to boost British energy supplies was a central pre-war aim. A February 2002 Cabinet Office paper described the UK’s objectives as ‘preserving peace and stability in the Gulf and ensuring energy security‘. Right up to the withdrawal of British troops in 2009, successive British strategy documents, also released by Chilcot, maintain two consistent objectives: transfer the oil sector from public ownership to multinationals, and ensure that BP and Shell get a large share. Sometimes a third oil objective appears: to make Iraq an advocate of low oil prices within OPEC.

USLAW Passes Resolution on Climate Change

Resolution passed by US Labor Against the War - April 17, 2016

Whereas, according to NASA, ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position; and

Whereas, the planet is warming at a dangerously rapid rate, primarily as a result of our reliance on carbon-based fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities that have caused a dramatic increase in the global level of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases; and

Whereas, scientists say that unless we curb the emissions that cause climate change, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by 2100; and

Whereas, if the trend of the 20th century continues the average worldwide sea level could rise by 3 to 6 feet by 2100; and
Whereas, the inevitable consequences of major disruptions to global ecosystems will be more frequent extreme weather events of Katrina-like hurricanes, more powerful tornadoes, prolonged draught, larger and more frequent wildfires, reduction to agricultural productivity with resulting food shortages and famine, spread of disease and a spasm of plant and animal loss that threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 percent of all living species on earth within this century; and

Whereas, emergency measures must be taken to prevent catastrophic increases in global warming that will trigger irreversible changes to our biosphere; and

Whereas, at the present rate of global warming we could reach that tipping point by 2050; and

Whereas, these developments have sparked a global movement that is demanding urgent action by our governments, including an encyclical by Pope Francis that describes the moral imperative for transforming our economy and social practices; and

Whereas, the world’s governments met again in Paris in December for the Conference of Parties held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) and called for significant reductions in the global use of fossil fuels; and

Whereas, the Pentagon and the military-industrial sector that feeds it and feeds off of it together are the largest consumers of fossil fuels and create the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet; and

Whereas, we have been sold the myth that we must choose between military jobs that do not enhance our nation’s security vs. having no job at all; and

Whereas, there is no good reason why the richest nation in the world cannot fund protection for its workers as we move towards less military spending and minimal reliance on fossil fuels; and

Whereas, millions of good jobs can be created by moving towards greater energy efficiency and reliance on renewal energy;

Therefore, be it resolved that US Labor Against the War affirms its commitment to significant reduction in the Pentagon budget and to a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy; and

Be it further resolved that USLAW will encourage unions at all levels to adopt resolutions supporting just transition towards reduced military spending and minimal reliance on fossil fuels; and
Be it further resolved that ULSAW will encourage unions at all levels to support legislation for the just transition described above.

Motion to Face the Realities of Climate Change

Adopted by UA Local 393 in San Jose - US Labor Against the War, March 9, 2016

Whereas;  On March 3, 2016 the temperature across the northern hemisphere,  crossed a line.  For a short time it was more than two degrees Celsius above “normal” for the first time in recorded history.  Governments are supposedly working to avoid crossing that so called “red line.” Arctic sea ice is at record low levels for the date.  Last month a tropical cyclone hit Fiji with the highest wind speeds ever measured, causing substantial regional destruction. Storms on Mexico’s West Coast have carried the highest wind speeds in history for months and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere unexpectedly surpassed 400 parts per million,  drastically changing the historical natural balance. This February we’ve seen record high temperatures. This is a glimpse into our climate changed future if we do nothing and,

Whereas; the Zika virus, spreading on the wings of mosquitos in the newly warmed climate, is attacking the brains of our babies, and we can expect a multitude of health effects to come out of climate changes in the environment, and

Whereas; the future is clearly coming much faster than science predicted. Global warming is no longer just a threat. It is increasingly a reality and a menace to our children, our loved ones and civilization as a whole, and

Whereas; almost all scientists agree that human use of fossil fuels propels climate change and that a rational approach to defend against the catastrophic effects of climate change is to leave most carbon fuels, coal, oil, and gas in the ground and develop new energy sources to serve our industries, homes, and economy - solar energy, wind energy and perhaps tidal energy, and

Whereas; the necessary changes the global community will need to make to prevent  catastrophic climate change in a positive way will have a powerful impact on the men and women who work in the pipe trades, and

Whereas; as our world and our industry evolves to prevent global catastrophe, many traditional UA and Building Trades jobs may no longer be needed, but with that change will come a tremendous upsurge in other technologies, such as solar power, wind power, tidal power, water reclamation, desalinization plants, and others that will offer monumental job opportunities to expand work for our members while ensuring a future for our children, so

Therefore Be It Resolved; that we call upon the United Association to form a Climate Change Commission of officers, members and scientific experts to study and develop plans that will respond to the new climate issues in a manner to best protect the needs of our members, our families, our people, our planet, and our Union.

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