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Going AWOL from Military Encroachment

4 August 2002

Is it possible to be a deserter when you're not even in the army? If so, then count me in. With its "war on terror" the US military industrial complex seems to be steadily taking over the last vestiges of civilian life.

Just recently, the US Navy was granted approval to deploy ships using low-frequency sonar, despite knowledge the system injures whales and other mammals.

Then Air Force General Ralph E Eberhart started pushing for changes to laws restricting the military's ability to participate in domestic law enforcement.

And this week we've been treated to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearings on attacking Iraq. Rather than inviting voices of experience and reason (such as Denis Halliday, the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq or Scott Ritter, the former Chief Inspector of the United Nations Special Commission to Disarm Iraq) to testify, the hearings have become a forum for hawks pushing for all-out war. While the focus is reportedly eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, curiously no mention has been made that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council also happen to be among the world's biggest arms dealers. Unmentioned too has been US complicity in the sanctions-related deaths of over one million Iraqis. Perhaps we'll get to that next week.

Not to be outdone, Boeing has ominously merged its communications and space unit with its military aircraft and missiles division. Why? According to Boeing CEO Paul Condit, the reorganization reflects the way future systems will be "designed, acquired and maintained" and will help Boeing better target "R&D opportunities."

Chew on that a minute. Sounds harmless enough at first, but remember this is Boeing - the same company that justifies its billions in tax breaks and corporate pork by emphasizing the company's contributions to civilian life. Never mind that Boeing has a disgraceful track record of violating governmental contracts, and that in spite of accepting "job creation" subsidies, it has slashed 100,000 employees in the last ten years. Never mind that even though the company is propped up with taxpayer dollars, its profits remain private and nothing stops it from moving production - and jobs - to places like military factories in Xian, China. Doesn't matter: Boeing is still the leading recipient of US Export-Import bank corporate welfare, and a symbol of American pride.

So just what then is implied by "communications" and "space" now falling under the military domain? Brings to mind the Pentagon's purchasing all rights to Ikonos satellite pictures of Afghanistan soon after the allied bombs started falling, thereby shielding the suggestible masses back home from gruesome displays of Afghan civilian casualties. "Communications" = hiding information.

And now it would seem "the heavens" = war, or as Steve Hadley of the National Security Council says, "Space is going to be important. It has a great feature in the military."

Not hard to predict that the final frontier's great feature will be massive military contracts defining "R&D opportunities" in aerospace boondoggles like Star Wars, and defense contractors such as Boeing making out like bandits.

That is when Boeing can take time from its current busy schedule of producing satellite-guided "smart" bombs to be used in air strikes on Iraq.

But just hold on a second - who says the Navy owns the oceans? Should the military control space? Is a kangaroo court all that really stands between my country and all-out war? If communication falls under the defense domain, does that make ordinary citizens who want some answers the enemy?

I don't remember voting for these changes.

While I'm grateful to those who choose to serve in the military, that doesn't mean I signed up for boot camp myself. The quiet yet omnipresent hand over of our lives and liberties to a war-based mindset destabilizes our communities and drains our resources.

Uncle Sam may want me, but I want my oceans, my sky and my voice back.

Heather Wokusch
Published by © Heather Wokusch

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