A Culture of Violence

The Harmful Effects of Imperialism at Home

The price at home has been high as well with democracy here just as fake as wherever we leave our imperial footprint. Ordinary Americans are the losers. Repressive laws and crumbling social services are their reward for patriotism. Then there’s the military and what’s diverted to fund it. Annual Pentagon budgets are soaring with the FY 2008 DOD one calling for an astonishing $648.8 billion plus an additional $147.5 billion war supplemental and around $50 billion or more now requested. The final total will likely top out over $850 billion with the usual pork factored in and Congress ready to authorize whatever more is needed.

Then come the 16 US spy agencies and their secret off-the-books budgets. CIA, NSA and the others get tens of billions more without accountability. The CIA is an especially out-of-control, rogue agency accountable only to the President. Post-WW II, it began intervening throughout the world covertly and overtly. No dirty trick is off the table, and the CIA invented their fair share of them. It uses them spying, fomenting and supporting wars, deposing foreign heads of state, and now they’re in play on US soil against American citizens. Noted academic and administration critic, Chalmers Johnson, calls the agency “the president’s private army” serving in the same capacity as imperial Rome’s Praetorian Guard.

The agency is secret and lawless, unaccountable to the public, Congress or the courts with intelligence gathering a sideline operation at most. Since it was created in 1947, but especially now, the CIA has an appalling record of toppling democratically elected governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and other key officials, propping up friendly dictators, and now snatching targeted individuals for “extraordinary rendition” to secret torture-prison hellholes from which many won’t emerge or ever get justice.

It takes lots of cover-up and myth-building to create the illusion America wants peace, is “beautiful,” and respects the law and rights of people everywhere. The truth is quite opposite abroad and at home where essential needs go unmet and violence is a way of life.

It recently showed up in the newly launched Global Peace Index’s (GPI) ranking of 121 nations. It was prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and think tanks, and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. It aims to “highlight the relationship between Global Peace and Sustainability (stressing) unless we can achieve” a peaceful world, humanity’s major challenges won’t be solved. GPI ranked nations by their relative internal and external “peacefulness” using 24 indicators. They include its:

– military expenditures as a percent of GDP and number of armed service personnel per 100,000 population;

– number of external and internal wars including the estimated number of deaths from them externally and internally;

– relations with other countries;

– respect for human rights;

– potential for terrorist acts;

– number of homicides per 100,000 population including infanticide;

– level of violent crime;

– aggregate number of heavy weapons per 100,000 population and ease of access to small arms and light weapons;

– number of jailed population per 100,000 population; and

– number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 population.

The US was a shocking 96th in the overall rankings -to the naive and innocent, that is. Norway, New Zealand and Denmark scored best in that order while Iraq ranked lowest followed by Sudan and Israel, that should be a wake-up call for its supporters. read full article

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