February 23, 2012

Occupy Sarasota Sending Anti-War Chalk Messages

I used to evaluate war primarily from an ethical perspective. Am I a pacifist? How can we justify killing civilians as collateral damage in military actions? Now I choose to look at war through an additional lens, that of the Occupy Movement.

I have one friend who says the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are nothing more than money-laundering operations - a way of moving U.S. tax dollars into the pockets of management and investors in big war contractors, such as Blackwater and Boeing. There are strong arguments for such an extreme statement. On almost every measure, we have not made progress toward our stated goals. For example, we have not made the region any more peaceful; in fact, our continued presence in the region draws out more opposition fighters. We have not built up the infrastructure in any meaningful way; if we had, many Iraqis would be calling for us to stay rather than for us to leave. We have not created more jobs at home; in fact a recent report shows that funding domestic programs creates at least 50% more jobs than military spending. And the total number of weapons of mass destruction that we've found: zero.

On the other hand, we have done two things on a grand scale. The first is to privatize significant portions of our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The second is to spend a lot of taxpayer money. Humongous sums of taxpayer money were successfully moved from the federal government into the profits of large war contractors. Robert Greenwald speaks to this war profiteering hypothesis.

Occupy Sarasota expressed their anti-war sentiments this weekend. At the weekly Saturday rally, folks drew sidewalk messages in chalk.

On Sunday, several Occupiers did some tabling and talking on the outskirts of the Siesta Key drum circle. The focus was a candle-light vigil to highlight the need for World Peace and against any further military action anywhere. Keeping the candles lit in the wind was problematic, but the Occupy Kite had a dandy time hovering above the picture-perfect sunset amidst the oh-so-danceable drumming.


  1. Hi Diane

    Have you ever read General Smedley D Butler's War is a Racket? He says war is an enterprise that enriches the few at the expense of the many. He wrote it in the thirties and, sadly, not much has changed.

    I saw Jesse Jackson speak in Tampa in the late seventies. At one dramatic moment he asked the audience by show of hands how many people in the audience owned a VCR, nearly all did, he explained that no VCR for sale in America was made in America. That the manufacture and sale of consumer products creates wealth, jobs and the end-purpose is benign. Then he asked how many people in the audience owned a missile (ICBM or Tomahawk?) and, of course, no one did. He went on to explain that all US missiles were made entirely in the US. That very few jobs were created producing arms and their purpose was death and destruction. The point being was production of peaceful, consumer goods employ people and create jobs and the production of arms employs very few people and destroys lives when they are finally used.

  2. Thank you for introducing me to Smedley Butler. Wikipedia says that at the time of his death, he was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. And yet he was outspoken against U.S. military adventurism. He is quite blunt, equating his 33 years in active military service with being "a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers."