[News] Ending Police Brutality at Home Means Challenging US Foreign Policy

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Tue Jun 9 11:34:29 EDT 2020


https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/501565-ending-police-brutality-at-home-means-challenging-us-foreign-policy
Ending
Police Brutality at Home Means Challenging US Foreign PolicyBy Ana
Kasparian  –  Jun 7, 2020

Demands to “defund the police” are rightfully chanted by protesters
throughout the country, as tens of thousands of people gather in major
cities across the United States following the murder of George Floyd in
Minneapolis. Undoing the devastating militarization of police departments
is impossible without also challenging the profit motive that drives
American aggression and brutalization abroad. To fundamentally change
policing in America, we also need to change U.S. foreign policy.

Paul Poast, an International Relations professor at the University of
Chicago, calls it the political economy of security. For instance, military
equipment tied to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars eventually made their way
to local police departments through a Pentagon initiative called the 1033
program. The program facilitates the transfer of excess military weaponry
and equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies. Well, at no charge to
anyone other than the U.S. taxpayer who these weapons are then used against.

Defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have a vested
interest in pushing the U.S. toward military conflict abroad. According to
a 2017 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
(SIPRI), around 88 percent of Lockheed Martin’s revenue comes from defense.
The defense also accounts for an incredible 94 percent of Raytheon’s
revenue. If it weren’t for U.S. military intervention, there would be
little need to produce more weapons of war, which means significantly less
revenue for these defense contractors.

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The SIPRI report noted that the world’s 100 largest arms-producing and
military service companies sold $398.2 billion worth of arms in 2017 alone.
Since there is a financial incentive to produce bigger and badder weapons
each year, the Pentagon inevitably ends with an ever-growing surplus of
military equipment, which again, U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for.

This is why the current protests end up looking like literal war scenes,
with civilian police using armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers
and night-vision goggles. As the Los Angeles Times reported, over $5
billion in surplus military equipment has been distributed to law
enforcement agencies nationwide between 1997 and 2014.

These weapons of war not only find their way to police departments across
the country but also make their way into our nation’s schools. For
instance, in 2014, the Los Angeles Unified School district agreed to
relinquish three grenade launchers it received from the Defense Department.
But the district refused to let go of 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush
Protected armored vehicle it had acquired through the 1033 program.

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Why would any school distinct — tasked with educating literal children —
need equipment used for so-called enemy combatants? They don’t. But we do
find ourselves in a pretty vicious cycle. Profit-driven gun manufacturers
legally bribe politicians to avoid common-sense gun legislation, which
inevitably leads to more school shootings. When tragedies like the 2012
Newtown massacre happens, district administrators argue that weapons of war
are necessary to protect students. The Sandy Hook shooting was what led to
increased police presence in our public schools. In other words, the U.S.
continued to compound the problem that led to the school shootings in the
first place.

Finally, if Americans are horrified at the brutality we’re all witnessing
at the hands of militarized cops — and absolutely should be — we should
also feel utter disgust toward how our military treats innocent civilians
in the countless countries we’ve decided to invade or orchestrate coups in.
Americans have mostly turned a blind eye to the maiming of black and brown
people around the world, and it’s about time we hold our government
accountable for it.

Law enforcement isn’t using drone strikes to take out its perceived threats
within our borders. But the Obama administration expanded on that policy
abroad — and then referred to innocent civilians who died as a result as
nothing more than “collateral damage.”

If we allow our government to devalue human lives around the world, we
shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t value ours.

Ana Kasparian is a host and executive producer of The Young Turks on TYT.



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