RATE OF IRAQI CIVILIANS MURDERED NEARLY EQUALS MURDER RATE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO
Hal Pepinsky, firstname.lastname@example.org, pepinsky.blogspot.com
December 30, 2010
I’m listening to the BBC report from “the most respected source” on civilians murdered each day throughout Iraq on average, 10 Iraqis are killed by an average of two bombs. I live in a suburb of Columbus, where on average about 10 residents are killed each month. Iraq’s civilian murder victimization rate is a little less than the rate in my neighboring city—11 per 100,000 vs. 13 per hundred thousand residents. So why isn’t my adjoining city openly recognized as much to be as great in Columbus as that justifying continuing US occupation of Iraq? Why is military funding protected while Columbus has had to raise its city income tax to avoid laying off their police?
The post-Vietnam US military-industrial complex went into gear when the Soviet empire collapsed, beginning with the invasion of Iraq timed to coincide with the Super Bowl. As the Project for a New American Century hoped for in its proclamation in 1999, we had a new Pearl Harbor occur on 9/11 (911, what a public relations coup) to launch the all-encompassing war on terror. It’s enough to give military industrialists wet dreams. The second sons of English property owners founded their nation in military-industrialism, including what Southerners who favored as secession essentially as a war by Northern textile mill owners to get Washington to maintain trade barriers with London. Political legitimacy for continuing and expanding conquest from those who lived in North America to post-WWI global military occupation and aggression, this nation’s existence and growth rests on the expansion of continuing warfare. The growth of the military-industrial complex collapsed in the Soviet Union in 1990. Twenty years later I can only wonder how the US winner of that contest will deal with the unaffordability of its own military burden. Our own wealthier corporations are already well along in disinvesting in US enterprise. US corporations who have received the benefit of government “stimulation” have on the whole invested the bulk of their bounty in laying off US workers and creating jobs abroad. We are headed in the same direction as Ireland and Greece: to having our world’s greatest indebtedness relative to income make even the Chinese government sell off its US treasury bonds. An irony of any growth of economic insecurity for all makes the rich make others suffer all the more to take and hoard what they can harder than ever. That is, as Jeffrey Reiman has labeled the phenomenon in the US, the rich get richer and the poor get prison.
Domestic and foreign US wars are symbiotic, and over time, synergistic. As the Soviet empire was collapsing in the late eighties, there was a great deal of scholarly/journalistic attention to how to undergo military-economic conversion. Simultaneously, expansion of the US prison-industrial complex began with a presidential crime commission and establishment of a justice department funding apparatus in 1968 as LBJ’s parting gasp, and in 1970 in New York with the Rockefeller Drug Law, ensuing proliferation of Nixon’s war on crime as he fell from grace and the US withdrew from Vietnam in disgrace. Since 911, private prisons have become gold on Wall Street. Imagine how I felt on these issues when leading challengers of the existing military industrial order, JFK, MLK and RFK, were shot down. JFK was my last political hero.
When I became one in the seventies, there was a standing joke among US criminologists that if we solved the crime problem, we would be out of business. At my first American Society of Criminology conference in 1968 (as luck would have it at the Southern Hotel in Columbus), I was one of 125 registrants. Now there are thousands. War and law enforcement remain the safest and most lucrative way to invest in the US economy.
From Nixon’s 1972 bid for re-election by declaring a war on crime (superseding his predecessor’s war on poverty), domestic police tactics have become global training grounds for what today is labeled anti-terrorism and counter insurgency (which government labels are parroted in Washington/New York/London journalism). I believe that in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are learning lessons that have led Columbus a dangerous a place to live as in Iraq, in both places, some neighborhoods are safer than others. Our neighborhoods and theirs suffer equally from Anglo-European foreign occupation. In all kinds of ways, we promote organized homicide (e.g., secular, gang-organized) resistance to foreign occupation, which disproportionately kills resident young men and women), by “growing” our military prowess as success.
Wars on gangs and drugs and insurgents and terrorists are self-destructive by whatever name. In the process, the richest are odds on to fall last as they fall hardest. When you think of insecurity in Iraq or Afghanistan, I invite you to think of insecurity in Columbus, Ohio, and about how we got here. To my friends around the world, I apologize for the toll we are taking as the US empire collapses. Here at home, the more softly and locally we can channel our losses and fears into locally owned and operated enterprise, the more security I believe that all of us in concert are set to weather our storm. Love and peace in the new year as we take stock of the old--hal