Training Killers in the Classroom
June Terpstra and Husayn Al-Kurdi
“If they would rather die, said Scrooge, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
The militarization of public schools is a subject concerning the life and death of the young people of this country and those millions across the globe they will be trained to kill, torture, and invade. To speak of this is to challenge the intense economic, social and cultural campaigns conducted to convince populations that wars benefiting the rich are wars guaranteeing freedom. The increasing need for young people to voluntarily join the US military to fight the wars for the enforcement of global capitalism as it expands its markets poses a challenge for radical educators to provide alternative scenarios. This article examines this agenda for militarization and provides strategies for counter-campaigns to end militarization in the public schools and the culture at large.
The educational system in the USA has from its inception been a site of struggle between the owning and possessing classes and those who serve them and abide by their bidding. Schools are the breeding grounds in which competing fantasies, fears, hopes and desires held by individuals and social groups crystallize. Public schooling is used to promote the militarization of young people whose class, racial and gender perspectives represent various competing ideological and economic claims. Unsuspecting young people are unaware that this militarized education will lead to train the individual to more readily kill and commit war crimes such as those committed by U.S. troops in Iraq, such as the brutality exhibited at Abu-Ghraib or in Mahmoudiya, where soldiers gang-raped a teen-age Iraqi girl and burned her body to destroy the evidence.
As Kenneth Saltman explains in Education as Enforcement:
Military generals running schools, students in uniforms, metal detectors, police presence, high-tech ID card dog tags, real time Internet-based surveillance cameras, mobile hidden surveillance cameras, security consultants, chainlink fences, surprise searches”—are all part of the investment the military industrial complex is embedding in U.S. public schools as they increasingly resemble the military and prisons. Militarism and the promotion of violence as virtue pervade foreign and domestic policy, popular culture, educational discourse, and language. In addition to promoting recruitment, military education plays a central role in fostering a social focus on discipline. In short, to speak of militarized schooling in the United States context it is inadequate to identify the ways that schools increasingly resemble the military and prisons. This phenomenon needs to be understood as part of the militarization of civil society exemplified by the rise of militarized policing, increased police powers for search and seizure, anti-public gathering laws, “zero tolerance” policies, and the transformation of welfare into punishing workfare programs.
The process of molding recruits into serviceable troops is based on indoctrinating them in the dehumanization of designated enemies. In the present US-led wars of terror these “enemies” are people who pose no threat to the individual or country but whose resources are coveted by the corporations. Additionally, the killing fields of the present US wars target people who mean nothing to capitalism’s obedient generals but a playground in which to use up old weapons and military equipment and experiment with new weapons and technologies. The public school military agenda offers the first steps to train young people to overcome any fear or prejudice against killing that the culture has not already dispelled via video games and films where the military is portrayed in ads as an adventure and a way to gain skills and a future education (providing one does not get killed). The heroism of service is consistently morphed with the concept of freedom along with an understated promotion of the excitement of killing bad guys. Ads, films and TV shows suggest that to be in the military is to be in respected and powerful elite. The main themes stress tangible rewards such as educational opportunities, high-tech skills training, and managerial expertise, which can later translate into cash in the corporate sector.
Chicago is one of the most militarized zones in need of de-militarization. There are five military academies affiliated with the Army, Navy, or Marines in the Windy City. Along with required attendance in the Junior ROTC program cadets must wear full military costumes to school and undergo daily uniform inspections, take a daily ROTC course focusing on military history, map reading and navigation, drug prevention, and the branches of the Department of Defense. Cadets can be seen marching on an academy’s drill team, learning the proper way to fire a weapon and shoot to kill. Military commandants from the U.S. armed services teach alongside math and music teachers in each academy. Three of these military academies were created in part with Department of Defense appropriations, funds secured by Illinois lawmakers. CPS is the only public school system in the country with Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps high school academies. In 2000, the armed services Chiefs of Staff testified before The House Armed Services Committee that 30%-50% of all Junior ROTC cadets later enlist in the military. Organizations opposing the military’s growing presence in public schools insist that it’s no coincidence that the number of military academies in Chicago is on the rise at a time when the U.S. military has had difficulty meeting its recruitment targets while fighting unpopular wars of aggression.
A militarized society from which to draw human cannon fodder is crucial to imperialist global control. The military is one of the most important sites of struggle for educators and researchers. Militarized schooling should be resisted at the local level as in organizations such as the Military Out of our Schools campaign that seeks to eject JROTC programs from public schools. Beyond this, an aggressive campaign that counters the cultural, social and economic program of the military is needed. We must provide an educational curriculum which facilitates the development of critical awareness of the student’s social, political and cultural conditions and conditionings.
Ten years ago, Israel began construction of its 490-mile mostly cold concrete barrier without any agreement with the Palestinian Authority about borders.
Over 80% of Israel’s Wall has been built on legally owned Palestinian property because it lies beyond the Green Line.
The Wall has cost over $1 billion so far and it continues to grow:
“Financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile, the Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families’ sole livelihood for generations.” [Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Page 43, Jan/Feb. 2007]
In Hebrew The Wall is called “Michshol Hafrada” which translates to “The Separation Wall” in English and “Apartheid Wall” in Afrikaans.
The Israeli spin has been repeated ad nauseam by US Media and Politicians who claim The Wall is against terrorist attacks…
Mutual chemical deterrence between Israel and Syria may be soon put to test
Syria is not Libya; it is neither Egypt nor Tunisia. Despite the Western thinly-disguised attempt to destabilize the Syrian regime, the latter is still in power after roughly a year and a half. Neither the USA nor Israel had developed yet a computer virus capable of destroying a human government. Yet, despite the Syrian government holding on, violence rules the ground, with violent explosions rocking this society daily, including sites located near stockpiles of chemical weapons. Far from the mainstream media eyes, there is a silent chemical-deterrence race between Israel and Syria. The June 16, 2011, edition of the Economist, included an article named “Nuclear endgame: The growing appeal of zero;” it analyzed a previous Wall Street Journal article by Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry, George Shultz and Sam Nunn. In the article, it was claimed that: “The risk of accidents, misjudgments or unauthorised launches… was growing more acute in a world of rivalries.” This referred to nuclear weapons; sadly it is no less true for chemical weapons of mass destruction. A chemical countdown between Israel and Syria may be taking place these days.
This race has been kept secret by the two sides involved. One of the reasons for that is that the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction” (find it at Chemical Weapons Convention) is very strict, and Israel is a signatory country. It is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is based in The Hague. Syria and Israel keep stockpiles of various chemical weapons.
The Syrian program is easier to follow. Syrian chemical weapons production facilities have been identified by Western nonproliferation experts at Cerin, Hama, Homs, Latakia, and Palmyra. Homs is one of the most restive cities in the ongoing conflict, thus creating real safety concerns. The sites apparently manufacture Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard gas types of chemical weapons, which can be launched on Scud missiles towards any location in Israel.
The situation in Israel—with the exception of one type of weapon—is extremely secretive. Much more is known on Israel’s nuclear weapons program that on its chemical one. There are credible claims that Israel Military Industries are involved in the production of certain chemical weapons, apparently through their Nazareth plant. Then, Israel’s largest ordnance stockpile—placed next to one of the country’s nuclear reactors—keeps a large amount of chemical artillery. NATO keeps bunkers in Israel filled up with military equipment. There is an understanding that the IDF will use their undisclosed—but rumored—content in the case of need. One of these bunkers is placed next to the abovementioned ordnance base.
The previous paragraph is not good enough; that’s the result of the Israeli administration secrecy. However, on one topic, this secrecy has been publicly breached; explaining that demands a short preamble. The Chemical Weapons Convention is a political document; as such, it includes political compromises. In order to avoid misinterpretations, it includes a list of forbidden chemicals and their precursors. It includes also a definition of what a chemical weapon is. Not surprisingly, these two slightly contradict each other.
The convention article’s “Definition and Criteria” defines a chemical weapon in subparagraph 1.b as “Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in …” Paragraph 2 clarifies what a “toxic chemical” is: “Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere.”
This is so clear, that there is no way of excluding white phosphorous from this list. White phosphorous has been used in smoke, tracer, illumination and incendiary munitions since the 19th century; notoriously in the Vietnam War. Ammunitions containing it burst into burning flakes of phosphorus upon impact and can cause serious burns. Phosphorous reacts exothermically with water; since human bodies contain large amounts of this liquid, it ignites upon content and burns until it is completely consumed. Its wounds are brutal and difficult to heal, thus it has been banned. Yet, white phosphorous is not part of the Chemical Weapons Convention, but is banned by the less strict Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which prohibits the use of said incendiary weapons against civilians (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions) or in civilian areas.
Yet, the IDF regularly uses White Phosphorous munitions; they are labeled “white smoke” (ashan lavan) and are used mainly for creating smoke screens. However, during the Cast Lead Operation they were used against civilians and UN targets. This included at least one brutal attack against a civilian hospital. The very clear pictures broadcast over the mainstream media by international networks, forced Israel to admit the crimes, though no sanctions were imposed by the international community, with the clear exception of defining Israel as a terror inflicting entity by the UN Human Rights Council. That is not all. On October 4, 1992, El Al Flight 1862, crashed into the Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg flats in the Bijlmermeer neighborhood of Amsterdam. Many people died and were injured by this Boeing 747 cargo plane. The cargo included over 280 kilograms of depleted uranium, which is used for certain types of missiles, and 190 litres of dimethyl methylphosphonate, which could be used in the synthesis of Sarin nerve gas. The owner of the latter was the IIB (see Mossad, Sonic Weapons & Khaled Mashal). This is enough to show a chemical stand-off exists between Syria and Israel.
“Deterrence” is defined as the use of threats by one party to convince another party to refrain from initiating an attack; more often than not is used in regard to nuclear weapons, but it is not restricted to that. In order for a deterrent to succeed, the parties must preserve their ability to retaliate either by responding before its own weapons are destroyed or by ensuring a second strike capability. Israel keeps a nuclear second strike capability through a steadily growing fleet of German submarines. The chemical second strike is even easier, since every artillery battalion—and they are widely spread out—is capable of delivering chemical artillery. An important point in every deterrence race is credibility; the threats of using weapons of mass destruction must be credible. In this case, both sides are credible, having shown incredible savagery in their conflicts.
The deterrence approach used by Israel is known as “mutual assured destruction;” this is the crudest and most simplistic approach, which shaped the Cold War between the USA and the USSR. More sophisticated cultures—the war race between Pakistan and India being the best example—use a softer version known as “Credible Minimum Deterrence.” This means the parties formally declares “no first use” of nuclear weapons while keeping a “second strike” capability (see Germany Creates New Nuclear Front in the Middle East). The bottom line is clear; Israel and Syria may engage in an especially cruel war.
Israel owns an impressive amount of chemical industries. The largest dangers are concentrated in two zones, both of them densely populated: Haifa and Beer Sheva. Haifa is home to the Oil Refineries, the Gadot Chemical Port and various industries. The docks of Gadot hold large quantities of highly reactive chemicals at all times, especially for the plastic and agrochemical industries. Its location implies the whole of the Haifa Bay could be contaminated if the containers were harmed to the extent of stopping the port activities at all, or at least limiting them seriously. Wait a sec… did I say Oil Refineries? Does Israel have oil wells? During the days of the British Mandate on Palestine, there was an oil pipe from Iraq to Haifa, marked in old maps with an “H.” It still exists and is strategically important, though it is inactive. However, the refineries at its end are very active. What is the economic point of importing crude oil and distilling it for local consumption? That is not the point, the financial side seldom is the key when dealing with Israel. Oil refineries use mono- di- and tri- ethanol amines in the oil purification process. Triethanolamine—usually known as TEA—is a precursor of chemical weapons and is smuggled out from the refineries to other industrial locations. The spilling of these and other chemical products stored and used in refineries may cause a serious ecological disaster. The adjacent streams are already heavily polluted; many soldiers from the marine commando suffer of cancer due to their training sessions in these waters.
Related to the oil industry are vast subterranean reservoirs of military and civilian grade gasoline. If spilled they could contaminate the limited water subterranean wells under the West Bank. Access to these waters is one of the main drives of Israel for holding empty mountainous areas along the Samarian mounts. The extensive use of these waters in recent years caused a serious lowering of their levels, transforming the surrounding ground (i.e. the whole of central Israel) into a highly thirsty sponge readily absorbing any liquids, and increasing thus the rate of the contamination process in the case of a spill.
Chemical industries in Beer Sheva include mainly those related to by-products of salts extracted from the Dead Sea by the Dead Sea Works, formerly known as the Palestine Potash Company. The salts are used for the production of agrochemical products and for the bromine related industries, mainly for the production of fire retardants. Most synthetic carpets in the world use fire-retardants produced here. The extraction of the salts is done on the southern side of the Dead Sea, where all the evaporation pools can be seen, but its chemical processing is done in several plants in the outskirts of Beer Sheva. There, two corporations make the processing: Makhteshim-Agan for the agrochemical products and ICL (Israel Chemical) for the bromine industry. Even those knowing very little chemistry know bromine is highly reactive and poisonous; the same goes for fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. That means unusual quantities of pollutants are produced and stored next to the city. Yet, the danger here is unexpectedly large since the Makhteshim plant produces methyl isocyanate. This extremely toxic substance is used in the production of pesticides. It became famous during the night of December 3, 1984, when it was spilled in the Bhopal installations of a company now owned by Dow Chemical. Defined as the worst industrial disaster in history, it caused the death of thousands, many more were crippled and the ground is still contaminated there. Dow Chemical learned nothing; it is a major provider of Oil Refineries, Makhteshim, Agan, ICL and others (see The Cross of Bethlehem). At all times, there are hundreds of kilograms of this substance waiting for further process at Makhteshim. Israel has the potential of becoming the scene of the worst industrial disaster, overtaking Bhopal by several orders of magnitude. A chemical war with Syria may unleash this danger.
Back to Kissinger
Quoting an article by Kissinger is difficult on the moral level; yet—what can one do?—sometimes he is right. His remark on the possibility of human errors taking place in a deterrence war scenario is correct; it should be better defined as the “certainty of a human error.” Considering the Israeli involvement in the Syrian uprising (see Lebanon Beats Syria) it is inevitable to consider that the military ranks of the Syrian army are not seeing Israel in favorable terms. It is conceivable to assume that at the least credible provocation they may launch a preemptive chemical attack. Israel leadership will react similarly, maybe even in a harsher fashion. The chemical countdown clock is ticking.
Published on Jun 19, 2012 by PressTVGlobalNews
Greek party leaders are trying for a second time to form a coalition government.
Will Greece eventually continue with its international bailouts and impose the harsh austerity measures and budget cuts as required by its agreements with the EU and the IMF or will the Greek have to exit the Eurozone and watch what happens next to the bloc?
PressTV Report. 24 year old Andrey Pshenichnikov is in the French capital with a purpose that goes beyond tourism.
This is his passport, the one he wants to renounce. In the past, some Israelis have managed to get their citizenship revoked, but there are no known cases of these Israelis applying for Palestinian residency or a Palestinian passport.
Born in Tajikistan before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Andrey Pshenichnikov’s parents moved to Russia in search of a better life.
And then the family moved to Israel.
It took only a little while before he discovered the darker side of his new country.
This experience influenced his years as a soldier of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Instead, Andrey Pshenichnikov lived and worked at the Deheishe Refugee Camp near Bethlehem, first in hotels and then in construction.
He is also open to the idea of settling down in Gaza.
Andrey Pshenichnikov says Israeli authorities have black listed him as a terrorist.
And he believes, it’s easier to give up his citizenship when he’s out of Israel.
He hopes, his decision will set an example and inspire others to follow.
The process to renounce his citizenship could be a lengthy one, one that Andrey Pshenichnikov says he is willing to face.
Rich Siegel’s six-year-old daughter Emily Gu Siegel created the cover art for her Poet, Musician, Activist and Spiritual Progressive Father’s CD “The Way to Peace”
Emily’s art work immediately put me in mind of John Lennon who was inspired to write “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by his son’s artwork- and also this John Lennon print that hangs above my bathtub:
The first listen through of Rich’s twelve songs also put me in mind of Jesus/AKA The Prince of Peace and THE WAY, who began a movement with twelve ordinary men with the message that the One God Loves All People Equally.
Rich’s religious views are “One God=One Love.”
Jesus was born lived and died a Palestinian Jew under a brutal military occupation.
Rich grew up in a Zionist home and lived in Israel before he learned he had been “lied to” about the “original sin” of national Zionism that continues to wreck havoc on the Holy Land.
Rich dedicates his most haunting song, “In Palestine” to the children of Gaza and in particular to Abir Aramin.
“In Palestine” as Rich pleads to God for all of US to STOP the killing, I imagined what a wonderful world it could be IF only this song were sung in every Christian Church throughout America as the faces of the children of Palestine flashed on a screen:
All because of a photo first published by The Florida Catholic in 2000, my life was irrevocably changed.
Photographer Debbie Hill captured three-year-old George [it is his photo that adorns the banner of my website] of Beit Jala, which is less than a five-minute car ride from downtown Bethlehem.
The photo was shot the morning after the Israeli military forces retaliated against a few hopeless militants who had infiltrated George’s neighborhood to snipe across the way into the illegal settlement/colony of Gilo, which lies about a mile as the crow flies from the top of the hill around the corner from George’s home.
The shrapnel that blew apart the wall of George’s bedroom read ‘Made in USA’ and was delivered via American made Apache helicopters.
The second I saw George’s eyes, in that photo, my heart said “DO SOMETHING!”
And that was the moment that I began to wake up from my comfortable Christianity to the brutal military occupation of Palestine and see ALL the children of that troubled land as my children too.
George’s face has adorned the banner of my website since I established it in 2005 after my first of seven trips to the State of Israel and Land of Palestine.
Abir’s face has adorned the left margin of my website ever since I learned that on 16 January 2007, the ten year old was walking with her sister and two friends to buy some sweet treats during a break between classes in the West Bank village of Anata, which is about four miles from Jerusalem.
While standing beside her sister at a kiosk, Abir was shot in the head with a rubber bullet fired from the rifle of a Border Guard soldier who was sitting in his well armored jeep.
After three days on life support Abir’s struggle ended- but not the struggle for justice her parents and all people of conscience seek-to STOP the KILLING in the Land of Palestine and State of Israel.
Israeli and Palestinian Children Killed September 29, 2000 – Present
126 Israeli childrenhave been killed by Palestinians and 1,476 Palestinian childrenhave been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000. (View Sources & More Information)
In 2007, Avichay Sharon, of Combatants for Peace explained, “Over the past 2 years, the Israeli Border Police and IDF forces have been creating provocations near the school district of Anata [which] has become a part of the daily routine for the children. Ever since construction started on the separation barrier surrounding Anata, the jeeps have been roaming the streets especially near the schools and shooting grenades and tear gas along with rubber bullets.”
Bassam Aramin, Abir’s father and co-founder of Combatants for Peace said, “I’m not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I’ve lost my heart, my child. I will do all I can to protect her friends, both Palestinian and Israeli. They are all our children.”
In March of 2006, I visited Anata and have been tormented by my memories ever since. The thirty-foot high concrete Wall that surrounds the boys high school where 780 Palestinian adolescents, only ‘playground’ is a slab of cement about the square footage of a basket ball court.
A resident refugee informed me that on a daily basis, “The Israeli Occupation Forces show up when the children gather in the morning or after classes. They throw percussion bombs or gas bombs into the school nearly every day! The world is sleeping; the world is hibernating and is allowing this misery to continue.”
A moment later, a teenage boy approached me as I was taking photos and asked me my name and where I was from. I cringed admitting I was American, for “financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile, the Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families’ sole livelihood for generations.” [Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Jan/Feb. 2007]
On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice/ICJ, ruled 14-1 that The Wall was illegal and it must come down and also that compensation should be paid to all who had been affected.
The ICJ Judges also decided 13-2 that signatories to the Geneva Convention were obliged to enforce “compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law” and the U.N. General Assembly also passed a resolution 150-6 supporting the ICJ’s call to dismantle the wall.” [Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2009]
Less than five minutes by car from Anata, one can enter into the Orwellian Disney Land of lush green grounds called the Pizgat Ze’ev settlement.
All the settlements/colonies in the West Bank are illegal under international law.
I was sick at heart as I traveled through the colony and counted three playgrounds and a swimming pool.
I wondered how many USA tax dollars helped to build them, and outraged over the injustices of Walls and military occupation that American money provides against the indigenous people of that land.
Within fifteen minutes after leaving Anata, as I stood next to a playground in Pizgat Ze’ev, a barrage of gunshots issued from the refugee camp and my guide informed me that the Israeli soldiers were showering the refugees with gunfire and terror- another normal daily occurrence for them.
I lost it completely then and sobbed uncontrollably, as I imagined the Magdalena when she could not find her Lord.
And then I thought of how Jesus cried buckets of tears over Jerusalem when he “saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you had only known what would bring you peace but it is hidden from your eyes.’”- Luke 19:42
Lady Justice, the Roman Goddess of Justice, an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems, is depicted wearing a blindfold to indicate that justice should be meted out objectively, not based in favor of- or against- ethnicity, power, or weakness, but on blind impartiality.
How Do We Teach The Children- and ourselves- The Way to Peace?
“There is no way to peace-peace is the way”-A.J. Muste
But Rich Siegel’s CD offers us some wonderful ways to imagine it as we teach our children through music what a what a wonderful world it should and can be; and
“What a Wonderful World” with Gilad Atzom on sax will blow you away and is also another highlight on “The Way To Peace”
To order and learn more visit http://www.richsiegel.com/
Double Standards-06-16-2012 from PressTV. G20leaders prepare to meet in one of the most dangerous countries on earth dressed as a Mariachi band. And in the occasion of Queen of England’s birthday we look at the slave labor that worked on her Diamond Jubilee. We also talk to the man who broke into the Leveson Inquiry and called Tony Blair a war criminal, the filmmaker and activist, David Lawley Wakelin, about war crimes and JPMorgan Chase. These and much more are all reviewed in this edition of Double Standards with Afshin Rattansi.
Egypt’s neighbour, Israel is more than aware of the developments across the border. Relations between the two countries have been sinking since the toppling of Mubarak last year. And war-mongering rhetoric has been stepped up, as Paula Slier reports.