Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Modest Proposal: A Green, Demilitarized Midwest!

In Chicago, we're excited about plans we're developing for a weekend of action and education with associates throughout the Midwest to -- the Midwest Action Against Drones (MAAD) September 28-29, 2013.

Organizers will gather in Chicago at the end of July to plan specifics. (To participate in planning, email Kait McIntyre I think there is an opportunity to use the conference at the end of September in Chicago to lift up a vision of the Midwest that is FOR green jobs, FOR education, FOR healthcare, and FREE OF military contracting.

Think what it could mean for . . .
. . . constituting a massive region in the heart of the country pushing back against the war-crazed conventional wisdom of "more weapons," "more consumption," and "more destruction of the environment"!

What's "green" got to do with it?

Although the nominal focus of MAAD is drones, what it's really about is the way they are being used, and the ends that they are being used for.

It is clear that drones are a pivotal instrument in the U.S. strategy to dominate the war for resources in the Mideast and across the globe.

Thus, it is essential that we look at root causes, and push back against them.

For a great introduction to these issues, see "Green Energy or Non-Stop War for Resources?" on the No Drones Ohio website.

What have "jobs" got to do with it?

Drones are also part of a narrative that is being sold to the U.S. public about where "good jobs" can be found. The argument that is made is, "Everyone should get involved in this high-tech killing machine business - there's jobs and contracts for everyone!"

In fact, military contracting is not economically healthy. There are far greater economic benefits that a region can enjoy from developing green technology! And even greater economic benefits from expanding education!

In particular, the effort by the City of Chicago to attract the Boeing Corporation corporate headquarters to the city a decade ago is symbolic of this struggle. Most people think of Boeing as a supplier of civilian aircraft; in fact, half the company's business comes from military contracts. By bringing Boeing to the city, Chicago became the home to the #2 war contractor in America!

(Read more about the "good jobs" debate in my post from last year, "Drones, Permawar, and the Problem of 'Good Jobs'". Then watch Drones, Jobs and Green Industry - An interview with Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts (Amherst).)

What has "education" got to do with it?

The Midwest is blessed with one of the best education systems in the world, anchored by the "land-grant" system of state colleges and universities. Schools like University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, Lincoln University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, North Dakota State University, The Ohio State University, South Dakota State University, and University of Wisconsin–Madison are part of this system. (See full list of land-grant universities here.)

Historically, these schools have had an orientation toward figuring out how things work. "The mission of these institutions as set forth in the 1862 Act is to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science and engineering (though "without excluding ... classical studies"), as a response to the industrial revolution and changing social class." (Wikipedia, Land-grant university)

Unfortunately, our Midwest universities are being drawn into the military-industrial complex in a way that was never intended with the promise of the "opportunity" to get in on the ground floor of the "drones revolution." It's time for a people in the Midwest to repudiate this direction.

(Read more about the problem of drone research at Midwest universities and research institutions.)

What's "healthcare" got to do with it?

Like green technology and education, healthcare is a valuable and life-affirming area of economic activity.

There's another reason we should lift up the importance of healthcare: the United States has generated enormous obligations to provide healthcare to veterans, and honoring those obligations is a moral imperative. Moreover, there needs to be much more education about the complex health challenges (including from PTSD and TBI) that veterans face. Finally, we all need to understand the way the long-term costs of healthcare for veterans are hidden from the public when the politicians and military contractors are talking about how good military spending is for the economy.

What would it take to achieve a Midwest "FREE OF military contracting"?

I don't know the full answer to that question. But I'm sure it has something to do with one of the biggest war profiteers in the world, headquartered in Chicago: Boeing.

Isn't it time for a change?

Read more about what's been going on in . . .
Related posts

We need to take a close look at what is happening at our Midwest colleges and universities. I'm concerned that our our Midwest schools are being drawn into the military-industrial complex with the promise of the "opportunity" to get in on the ground floor of the "drones revolution."

(See Do We Have a Drone Problem at Midwest Colleges and Universities?)

There's been a lot of talk in recent weeks and months about the problem of gun trafficking in Illinois, and how we will never meet our goal of stopping the violence in our communities if we can't stop the flow of guns. Maybe it's time for us to eat our own dog food . . . .

(See What If Illinois Became a "War-Profiteer-Free Zone" ? )

Chicago has a tremendous head start in being a place that is inspired by the beauty all around us to do the difficult things that are needed. And Chicago is so beautiful all summer long, there's no reason to leave the city. Think of all the carbon emissions save on car and jet travel!

(See "One Word: Wildflowers" on Zero Carbon Chicago)

Other related links

May 11, 2011 - "In a Green Town, Activists See Red Over Lockheed Martin" by Abby Goodnough in The New York Times describes "greenwashing": "[S]ome Burlingtonians were livid when Mayor Bob Kiss announced a partnership late last year with Lockheed Martin, the military contractor, to work on clean-energy projects . . . . "