SAN FRANCISCO, USA, June 1 (IPS) – After the horrific tragedies of the mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, new protests for gun control followed. “Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died,” President Biden said during a university opening address this weekend.
As he has said, gun control is a much-needed step — which, as evidence in many countries shows, would greatly reduce the number of deaths from firearms. But what about “weapons control” in the Pentagon?
The concept of curtailing the US military’s arsenal is such a non-starter it’s not even mentioned. Yet the annual number of fatal shootings in the United States — 19,384 at last count — is comparable to the average annual number of documented civilian deaths directly caused by Pentagon warfare over the past two decades. And such war dead figures are underestimates. From high-tech rifles and automatic weapons to drones, long-range missiles and gravity bombs, the weapons of the US military have caused carnage in many countries. How many people were directly killed by the violence of the “War on Terror”?
An average of 45,000 people a year — more than two-fifths of them innocent civilians — since the start of the terror war, as documented by the Costs of War project at Brown University. The mindset of the American mass media and mainstream politics is so militarized that such realities are routinely not given a second thought, or even a single thought. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s budget continues to rise year on year, with President Biden now proposing $813 billion for fiscal year 2023.
Liberals and others often denounce how gun makers make their living selling pistols and semiautomatic rifles in the United States, while gun sales to the Pentagon continue to soar for corporate war mega-profits. As William Hartung pointed out in his Profits of War report last fall, “Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, Pentagon spending has exceeded $14 trillion, with one-third to one-half of the total going to military contractors. .
A large portion of these contracts — a quarter to a third of all Pentagon contracts in recent years — have gone to just five major companies: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. In addition, the United States is the world’s largest arms exporter, accounting for 35 percent of total arms sales — more than Russia and China combined. US arms exports have huge consequences. Noting that the Saudi-led war and blockade in Yemen “has contributed to the deaths of nearly half a million people,” a letter to Congress in late April from 60 organizations said that “the United States must stop supplying weapons, spare parts, maintenance services and logistical support to Saudi Arabia.” How come countless haunted commentators and concerned individuals in the US can express justified anger at arms dealers and weapons-related murders when a mass shooting takes place within US borders, while remaining silent about the need for meaningful gun control at the Pentagon? and still die – from the use of US military weapons do not appear on US TV screens.Many lose their lives as a result of military operations that are not reported by the US news media, either because key journalists do not bother to cover the story or because those operations are kept secret by the US government.In practice, the current system treats certain war victims as “unworthy.” Whatever the causal mix – in whatever proportions of conscious or unconscious nationalism, chauvinism, racism and downright eagerness to believe whatever comforting fairy tale is repeatedly told by media and government officials – the resulting brew is a grave refusal to acknowledge the major realities of American society and foreign policy. To add to the routine deception, we’ve been drilled into calling the country’s military budget a “defense” budget — while Congress spends half of all discretionary spending on the military, the US spends more on its military than it does. In the next 10 countries combined (most of them allies), the Pentagon operates 750 military bases abroad, and the United States now conducts military operations in 85 countries. Yes, gun control is a great idea. For the small guns. And the big one.
Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of a dozen books, including Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State, released this year in a new edition as a free e-book. His other books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
IPS UN Office
Follow IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service