by J.A. Myerson at Truthout
If the last decade was the era of occupations that everyone called liberations, then the 99 percent movement is seeking to make this the era of liberations everyone calls occupations.
“It’s clear that the interests of the majority of people in this country do not align with the military-industrial complex who put corporate profiteering based on destruction ahead of the needs of people,” said Alex Kane, a journalist and activist. “The nexus of power that Occupy is looking to challenge in this country does not stop at Wall Street. Military profiteering is an integral part of the system and it should be challenged.”
The “liberation” of Afghanistan has yielded a corrupt government in Kabul, where Hamid Karzai, the former CIA-paid fundraiser for the Mujahideen, is positioning himself as chief lapdog for the Taliban and the ISI (the Pakistan intelligence agency), this alliance acting alongside American bombs to create, in the words of one member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, “no positive change.” Well, no positive change for some. For others, like Karzai’s wealthy friends, embezzling great chunks of the $70 billion worth of security assistance and development projects American taxpayers have spent in Afghanistan since the invasion has yielded quite a large chunk of positive change.
The “liberation” of Iraq was so successful that America is getting all her troops out of there by the end of 2011, unless you count the thousands of mercenaries who will remain there to enrich their corporate ownership on the 99 percent’s dime. The Obama administration would also like you please to ignore its forthcoming troop buildup in the region simultaneous to the “withdrawal” from Iraq and the huge amount of money it will cost American taxpayers, who are told we’re too broke to stimulate the economy.
America appears to have “liberated” Libya right into quasi-theocratic governance, its transitional government announcing that the decision regarding what to do with the body of its summarily raped and executed former dictator would be taken by the head of the Islamic Fatwa society. This is not actually a problem for America, whose mind is on other things. “It may not be quite the country that NATO thought it was fighting for (when Sharia is implemented in Libya),” said Libya expert David Hartwell, senior analyst at HIS Jane’s. “But the huge amounts of oil and gas in Libya will make everyone learn how to reconcile themselves with the new Libya.”
The state of these “liberations” all point to the great need for a different type of liberation, that of American democracy from the corporate interests that pull its levers to facilitate their accumulation of wealth. That is precisely the focus of the Wall Street occupiers, whose movement has attracted solidarity occupations and protests in cities around the world.
The 1 percent knows what good business war is, owing partly to America’s seemingly insatiable will to spend its money on military affairs and the ease with which the national security state can be gamed to furnish private corporations with windfall profit-yielding public contracts. More than half of the discretionary budget is devoted to military matters, as though there were no use for that money domestically. Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples puts it well in the aptly titled “Big Business“: “If more than half the budget goes to military spending, less than half goes to whatever it’s defending.”
And the 1 percent are making out like bandits. Robert Greenwald provides a handy comparison at Firedog Lake:
Military Contractor CEO Pay in 2010
Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush: $22.84 million.
Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens: $21.89 million.
Boeing CEO James McNerney: $19.4 million.
Financial Sector CEO Pay in 2010
JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon: $20.81 million.
Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf: $18.97 million.
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan: $1.94 million.
Lobbying Expenditures for 2010
Lockheed Martin: $12.7 million.
Northrop Grumman: $15.7 million.
Boeing: $17.89 million.
JP Morgan Chase:$7.41 million.
Wells Fargo: $5.43 million.
Bank of America: $3.98 million.
War profiteers benefit from the same corrupt system that bolsters the wealth of stock traders: this country provides more democracy, freedom and protection to the very wealthy than to the average citizen.
Mercenaries with well-placed lobbyists get off scot-free for massacres, while staggering numbers of poor people of color (who have no lobbyists) are imprisoned and disenfranchised for nonviolent attempts to survive in a jobless economy. Every time we are told about the lack of money available for teachers and home heating assistance for the poor, we should recall that the Pentagon simply lost more than $6 billion in Iraq, and there is no serious attempt afoot to account for it.
Instead of facing justice, the mercenary industry continues to receive snuggles and handouts from our highest democratic leadership. Jeremy Scahill reports that the Obama administration has furnished Chicago mercenary firm Triple Canopy with millions of dollars to continue where Blackwater left off in Iraq.
Surely, this is not the democracy that Iraq war veterans Scott Olson and Kayvan Sabeghi were hoping to export to other countries. Now, both have been nearly killed in crackdowns on dissent by police officers sworn to uphold a document prohibiting governmental abridgement of the right of the people peaceably to assemble. Protesters spurred on by the Occupy movement have already surrounded the White House to protest special favors paid to the 1 percent by the government at the expense of atrocities; perhaps they’ll head to the Pentagon next.
Or perhaps, as with the Move Your Money campaign and foreclosure resistance, they won’t only protest, but also take direct self-reliant action to confront the system. “It is no secret that Israel receives $3.1 billion per year in military aid from the United States,” says Anna Lekas-Miller, a New York University student who spends a lot of time at Liberty Plaza. “However, what many Americans are not aware of, is that their investments and retirement funds are directly invested in companies that fund and facilitate the occupation of Palestine rather than to education or healthcare in the United States. Let’s empower ourselves on how to stop corporations in the United States from wreaking havoc on the world.”