A Modest Proposal on Behalf of Mother Earth: Bake Sales for Bombers Until the Pentagon Cleans Up its Messes

From the Editor – a modest proposal in honor of this week’s 50th International Mother Earth Day, as we shelter-in-place.

First, we kick COVID-19 of course, if Trump gets out of they way – otherwise I suppose we lance that gruesome boil at the ballot box in November – but the moment we have that under control:

It’s Bake Sales for Bombers! 

until the Pentagon cleans up all its messes.

This is one of those foundational notions we all hope our kids learn – that we should show the respect, kindness and courtesy to others that we would appreciate ourselves, and clean up after ourselves when we make a mess. Time now to clean up for Mother Earth.

No more Predators, Reapers, F-35s, Ospreys, aircraft carriers or high tech equipment of any kind whatsoever, until the Department of (ahem) Defense cleans up every mess it has made and left behind since it was given that woefully inaccurate misnomer back in 1947. My apologies to family employed by the military industrial complex, but it has to be done. Seventy-three years later, it is abundantly clear that the primary results of DoD spending truly suck for most people, while the benefits are enjoyed by a relative few: 

  1. The creation of ever-more terrorists, because every other drone strike we make in the 8 countries we’re bombing kills unintended targets and their families and friends tend to not appreciate this
  2. More revenue for Pentagon contractors, their executives, shareholders and participants in the Pentagon/Military Industrial Complex revolving door
  3. Millions of lives lost, their personal and democratic aspirations thwarted
  4. Lots of strategic, political, ecological, and psychological messes left behind

Every war zone that remains contaminated, every environmental hazard left, every peasant uprising destroyed, every financial waste, every existential threat, every Middle East (and the world) laid waste by the chaos of unnecessary endless war, all these man-made disasters should be cleaned up first. Of course this is a partial list, compiled hastily. Wait’ll we start adding up all the colossal wastes left behind!

Naturally this homage to Mother Earth must include a complete audit of the DoD for the first time, as required by law.

No $$ for the Pentagon at all – except to fully support its soldiers and veterans with all the education, health care and career training and retraining they need. We’re going to need them to do lots of other things besides threaten the official enemies of the White House’s current occupant with further political and economic warfare and violence. These myriad messes will probably take a few generations to tidy up. Then we talk about more toys. But only if they haven’t made any more messes in the meantime and are prepared to build peace in the future, certain to be a challenge for a national security establishment accustomed to solving domestic political problems with violent military solutions abroad. 

Fortunately, it turns out that military spending is a lousy jobs creator compared to a host of other sectors we’ll desperately need, such as renewable energy, higher education and infrastructure.

$1 million in federal spending creates fewer jobs than the same spending in nine other areas. Spending on elementary and secondary education creates the most jobs, at 19.2 per $1 million. Courtesy Heidi Garrett-Peltier, Costs of War Project, Brown University.

The Raucous Rooster’s vote for the first mess to clean up: all the bombs, bomblets, bombies and other explosives still scattered around Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam that we dropped on them in the period from 1964-1975. It is undisputed that we dropped nearly 800,000 cluster bombs on those countries (yielding around a trillion ball bearings and razor-sharp darts), and around 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia alone between 1969-1973. It’s believed that at least a third of those bombs did not explode and they continue to kill people every week in those countries. 

This first clean-up of Indochina alone will be quite time-consuming, but will have the immediate benefit of helping a great many people heal from old wounds and avoiding further pain and suffering. It will also have the side benefit of educating the American public about the consequences of its decidedly undemocratic foreign policy, and about the seeds planted by Nixon and Kissinger for permanent, extrajudicial warfare by the executive branch. We continue to deal with the consequences of this in 2020. 

Aerial view of bomb craters in the landscape surrounding Phonsavanh, Laos. Photo by Jerry Redfern, featured cover image of the book, Eternal Harvest by Karen J. Coates.

On his way out the door former President Barack Obama provided $90 million to support three more years worth of international efforts to remove and defuse old U.S. bombs which still litter the countryside of Laos. Obama did not, however, apologize for the illegal bombing of that nation when he visited in the fall of 2016. The BBC gave Obama the exceedingly kind headline in a laudatory piece without any uncomfortable questions asked, “Barack Obama regrets ‘biggest bombing in history.”  

Unfortunately, the Trump administration has continued the U.S. policy of insisting that Cambodia repay over $500 million in debt, debt that was accumulated by that country while it was dealing with a civil war and refugee crisis caused in part by our illegal bombing campaign. It was originally a $274 million loan used to purchase U.S. agricultural commodities such as cotton, flour and rice. While we may still have 80 million bombs that were illegally dropped on Cambodia to clean up, we’re still insisting they owe us. 

So this’ll keep us busy for awhile – no more time or money for wars in the meantime, we’ve got shit to do. It’s bake sales for bombers while we clean up around here. In the spirit of generosity and fairness though we should allow for military fundraising by garage sale, yard sale, and flea market as well, if appropriate and there is sufficient interest. – RR.

For more information, visit Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern online. They are author and photographer, respectively, of Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos. We look forward to their forthcoming film, also titled Eternal Harvest.

Also check out an inspiring film on this subject which was released last year by filmmaker Erin McGoff, This Little Land of Mines.

Reply to the Rooster

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.