Military keeps playing with big toys

With Mother’s Day as its focus, this past week has been an ode to anti-militarism in the Midwest. I have been quoted in The Minnesota Daily as one of three University students to conduct civil disobedience at Alliant-Tech, a Hopkins-based conglomerate peddling $1.3 billion per year in tax-funded killing machines.
On Mother’s Day, I also joined 50 other people in an annual demonstration at Project Extremely Low Frequence (ELF). ELF is the Northern Wisconsin-based electromagnetic “first strike” trigger system for one half of the U.S. nuclear weapons force. As a result of this demonstration, I have been charged with trespassing, which carries a five-year suspension of my driver’s license as its penalty.
Here in the United States and specifically the Twin Cities, we are in “the belly of the beast,” and nonviolent direct action is the only means of confronting the corporate-military’s escalating addiction to world annihilation. Fellow students must recognize that the University and other centers of higher learning play critical roles in promoting war-mongering. For example, only a handful of contractors receive more military research funds than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and John Hopkins University.
Why does the University research how to better disseminate chemical weapons at high-mach, high altitudes? New techniques for missile design analysis, stronger tank and weapon materials and the development of an aggressive tailless fighter jet are just a few of the other underground “higher education” projects at the University. In fact, with the University receiving $17 million in Department of Defense funds for 1997 (up from $11 million in 1993), it seems that the post-Cold War peace dividends are delayed at best.
The research contracts on campus reveal that nano-technology, or “the mechanizing of the molecular level,” is a dominant interest at the University. Computers are taking on a crucial role in designing a brave new world of fabricated nano-structures that will display two-way memory effects in nano-magnetic devices.
The broad military implications start with machine-to-machine air traffic control and end with cellular automata used for self-propagating molecular robotics, brain implants and other man-machine surveillance devices. The grand achievement exposed on campus is geared towards a “NATO neural network” emphasizing how the University is contributing to the most bloated and destructive system in the world.
The federal Office of Management and Budget states that the military is only 17 percent of the national budget, but several factors are obfuscated by this misleading figure. The correct percentage hovers around 50 percent.
During the Vietnam War, when the government created the so-called “Unified Budget,” which includes unallocatable trust funds — social security is not part of the dispensable congressional budget — the military percentage instantly shrank. Retired generals and admirals at the Center for Defense Information also point out that military spending was hidden in non-military portions of the budget. For instance, here at the University further military research is most likely being funded by NASA, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
Very significantly, the 17 percent federal figure does not include past military spending costs, i.e. the cost of veterans benefits and the 80 percent of the interest on the national debt that is from military spending — thank you, Ronald Reagan.
Since the combined military budgets of Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Russia and China are still less than half of the United State’s official 17 percent figure, obviously “defense” is not our defining military role. Among the world’s recent major conflicts, 90 percent involved one or more parties receiving U.S. weapons or military technology prior to the outbreak of war.
Recently, the U.S. share of world arms exports has increased by 50 percent and the United States now supplies more than 60 percent of the world’s military weapons, with half of the cost funded by U.S. taxpayers. The government has consistently ignored recommendations by the Congressional Budget Office that suggested cutting the incompetent B-2 stealth bomber, the F-22 jet, the Trident II D-5 nuclear missile and Star Wars.
President Clinton just last fall ended a 20-year ban on advanced weapons sales to Latin America. Now Lockhead-Martin, which has operations in the Twin Cities, can sell F-16s to be used against democracy movements in our hemisphere. Recent military scandals include training death squads for use against grass roots democracy in Indonesia, Columbia and Mexico coupled with the approval of bio-weapon testing within U.S. cities.
The addition of 13 more countries to NATO promises the further exportation of military jobs along with corporate welfare costs estimated at $250 billion. Even though the Twin Cities receives hundred of millions of dollars per year in military projects — 500 pages list just 1993 contracts — downsizing, increased profits and further environmental superfund sites are definitive of military spending. Ironically, federal corporate arms export subsidies equal the total amount of subsidies cut from federal social service programs.
These unabashed acts of greedy, bloody U.S. militarism are not surprising considering that in 1994 Congress passed a law enabling the Department of Defense, or any of its contractors, to test biological weapons in any U.S. city, provided that they give a city official 30 days notice.
Currently, the Pentagon, at the behest of the military industry, is requesting a waiver of the anti-personnel land mine moratorium, even though 124 nations have already signed the international mine ban treaty. Furthermore, the United States, like India, is hypocritically in the process of conducting six underground nuclear tests, in direct violation of the International Test Ban Treaty.
Direct global democracy inspires hope, though, as the protests of French nuclear testing proved, as well as Alliant Tech land mine production and Project ELF recently being judged illegal by international law. Students at the University, which has $110,000 invested with Alliant Tech, have a duty to rise up and take action against our rogue state. Under the 1996 Solomon Amendment, if military recruitment is cancelled on campus, all federal funding for the University would be stopped. Just as the United States-funded military regime of Indonesia is now shut down by students, we here need to take similar measures. Conversion to an efficient, productive and sustainable society is the clear choice in the face of our behemoth killer monster.
Students should demand an end to the profit-driven U.S. war machine. Only by converting the military will a sustainable society be achieved.

Drew Hempel is a University College graduate student pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies.