"Mock invasions, mock terrorist manhunts, shootouts, and roundups are not jokes...the last shreds of democracy are at stake"
This article originally appeared at Couterpunch
Anti-militarism activists are shaking their heads in amazement. We have been working for years to push back against the massive military expansion underway both in the US and around the world, fighting back one threatened community at a time. The national media has barely mentioned these efforts and local media chooses to mostly ignore the work.
Militarized violence has become the new normal in the USA. It barely matters whether these militarized forces are controlled by the Pentagon, or state governors, each in control of a national guard (state-based militia), state or local police chief, or even a county sheriff with their own militarized departments.
Yet, the largest war “game” ever undertaken by the Pentagon is now getting huge amounts of superficial media attention. The media is not focusing on the tremendous financial cost, the potential environmental consequences, or the unconstitutionality of the plan. The media of both the left and the right are using the plan as yet another convenient tool in enabling the divide and conquer strategy of the Pentagon.
Jade Helm 15 and Texas have become the convenient punch lines of jokes and mocking by so-called progressives and the mainstream media without a single serious look at what the actual activity will do on the ground. Think about this; Viet Nam is the size of New Mexico. Iraq is smaller than Texas. Afghanistan is also smaller than Texas.
What war is being practiced for in an area comprised of seven of the largest states in the US including New Mexico and Texas – Russia? China? Africa? Europe? These are the questions the media should be asking. The public needs to know the endgame of all the proposed and ongoing war games.
The majority of people taking the Jade Helm 15 seriously are not conspiracy theorists, they are community volunteers and environmental attorneys that have been working for years to stop military expansion. Among the volunteers are retired people, school children, veterans, ranchers, peace activists, business people, and environmentalists. They are people who know and oppose intrusive, polluting, environmentally destructive, economically damaging military operations whether overhead, on the ground or in waterways.
Communities Organized Against Military Expansion
Across the US, communities are kept busy responding to endless Pentagon NEPA actions. NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act, which supposedly protects or limits the environmental impacts of government activities. People are most familiar with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is the final stage of the lengthy NEPA process.
The group I work with is the Peaceful Skies Coalition, organized in 2010 to stop air force special ops from flying and practicing war at very low altitudes over most of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Over the past five years, the coalition has intervened in numerous Pentagon NEPA actions from Vermont to Alaska. We also stand in solidarity with the people around the world fighting US militarism; Okinawa, Guam, Jeju Island Korea and Sicily to name just a few.
A meeting of anti-militarization community leaders was held both online and in person in Taos, New Mexico in April. As community after community told their story we realized that the situation was identical no matter where in the US the military was expanding. Communities are organized to fight current Pentagon expansion plans. The Pentagon wants to expand the bootprint not only of its bases, but also to expand military activities across public lands; national forests, national parks and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As a result of agreeing to shared values in April, the organizations are in the process of creating a national organization to strengthen the reach and voice of the anti-militarization movement.
Pentagon’s Planned Gulf of Alaska Ecocide is Also Not a Joke
While attention is focused Jade Helm 15 in the southwest US, barely a speck of attention is being paid to the real navy plan to begin live ammunition bombing and sonar war “games” in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) in June. Without a miracle that intervenes to stop this project, the navy bombing will begin next month and be repeated every year for at least the next five years.
Public outcry, especially to the secretary of the navy and members of Congress, might help stop the planned bombings. (http://www.eyakpreservationcouncil.org/navy-training-facts/write-letter-navy-2/) The sample letter prepared by the Eyak Preservation Council states that “The coastline around the GOA is home to many coastal communities and Alaska Native people who rely on marine and freshwater resources… These exercises are planned during the most prolific breeding and migratory periods of the marine supported life in the region (salmon, whales, birds and more)… Commercial fishing is the largest private sector employer in Alaska, providing some 80,000 jobs as well as a healthy food source.”
The Eyak Preservation Council, which is fighting a lonely battle to stop the navy, describes the importance of salmon to their lives; “The life blood of our region – the basis for a culture, economy and community. The Copper River and Prince William Sound are spectacular watersheds that host a rich, plentiful, unique and roadless pristine ecosystem that supports one of the most sought after wild salmon runs in the world, known as the Copper River wild salmon. One of the last truly wild places on earth.”
The Gulf of Alaska fight is just one of the fights against the navy currently taking place all along the Pacific Rim including the West Coast of the US and Hawai’i. Community volunteers and a handful of attorneys versus the Pentagon, is a scenario repeated in one community after another.
Jade Helm 15 is Not a Joke
Jade Helm 15 is not a joke and must be taken seriously. Mock invasions, mock terrorist manhunts, shootouts, and roundups are not jokes. They are reminders that in the Global War On Terror (GWOT) being a US citizen doesn’t matter. Because in the eyes of the State, everyone is a suspect, everyone must stand up against war and war practice. The last shreds of democracy are at stake.