By Benny Koval
Less than 20 percent of Americans trust the federal government, a historic low. Why, then, is so much of the public’s trust placed in Washington’s armed wing abroad?
About two-thirds of Americans are “concerned” about the DPRK, otherwise known as North Korea, having nuclear weapons. A similar amount of Americans would support US military action against the DPRK if an ally entered a “serious conflict” with the country. Apparently, it is not concerning that the USA has a real nuclear arsenal of 6,800 weapons to tap into should war with the DPRK become a strategic possibility. The DPRK, on the other hand, maintains just ten nuclear weapons. Who is the real threat here?
While nuclear tests have historically been conducted on varying colonized groups, such as France’s strike on Algeria, the USA is the only state to drop a nuclear bomb during war. A war crime of inestimable proportions, the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed between 150,000 and 250,000 people on impact. To this day, the USA shows no remorse for this genocidal act. Furthermore, the country is no stranger to showing unique brutality against Korea. From 1950 to 1953, the USA used more napalm on the Korean peninsula than it did on Vietnam, contributing to the destruction of 18 out of the 22 industrial cities in the North. Perhaps most notable is the stark contrast in war policy between the two countries. The US, alongside NATO, supports pre-emptive nuclear strikes on nuclear states. Meanwhile, the DPRK maintains a no-first-use nuclear policy, reaffirmed just last year during the 7th Congress of the Worker’s Party of Korea:
“Our republic is a responsible nuclear state that, as we made clear before, will not use nuclear weapons first unless aggressive hostile forces use nuclear weapons to invade on our sovereignty.”
One-third of Americans believe the USA doesn’t spend enough money on defense. In reality, the USA maintains the strongest military in the world, even without the House Republicans’ budget proposal of 622 billion dollars. This massive amount is not spent on defense of the people. According to David Vine, associate professor of anthropology at American University, the USA spends 156 billion dollars each year maintaining more than 800 military bases throughout 80 countries. 113 of these military bases are in Japan, 72 years after the United States’ last military conflict with the country. The real purpose of these bases, Vine explains, is to encircle and intimidate enemy states. Russia and China, two major targets of US encirclement, maintain a grand total of 12 military bases in other countries.
The USA-exclusive tactic of encirclement does not protect people of any nationality. Indeed, the US even sacrifices its own people to secure its global surveillance system.
According to the Department of Education’s own data, the 156 billion tax dollars spent on military bases yearly is enough to make public college tuition free about three times over.
The Flint water crisis, which has plagued the majority Black city for years, could end today if it weren’t for the capitalist maldistribution of resources. Rowe Professional Services estimate the cost of repair at around 218 million dollars.
In an even more recent example, hurricane Maria hit the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico on September 20th of this year. Nine days later, tens of thousands of containers with food, water, and medicine were still stuck in Puerto Rican docks. That day, the Governor of the island addressed a desperate plea to Washington. “We are dying here,” said Governor Cruz. “What we are going to see is something close to a genocide.” President Trump blames the government’s non-response on “big water, ocean water”, but distance has never stopped imperialist aggression before.
In the countries dotted with US soldiers, safety and trust are not guaranteed at all. After supposedly being liberated by the USA, an overwhelming 93 percent of Iraqi teenagers consider the USA to be an enemy state. 12 US military bases remain in Iraq today, with two almost bordering Iran and another nearby Syria. In Japan, after the rape of a woman and the murder of another by US servicemen, 60,000 protested in Naha to demand a shutdown of all 113 bases last year.
Although the USA claims to care about their soldiers, 20 percent of veterans involved in the so-called “liberation” of Iraq returned with mental disorder(s), and struggle to access healthcare services. In the first half of this month alone, 535,000 patients through the Veterans Association waited more than 30 days for a medical appointment.
The USA is motivated by profit rather than love for the people. Many of its citizens know this to be true, but struggle to condemn the military as a force which exerts that same, dreaded policy on a global scale. The vast majority of the world faces a shared enemy: American Imperialism. Imperialist aggression has empowered misogyny, as in the case of Japan, and too many other forms of social and economic exploitation. When workers in the US recognize the interconnected nature of our struggles, we show solidarity with Iraqi teens and Japanese women by joining the effort to forge a better world for us all.
Benny Koval is a student worker building socialism through activism and writing.
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