The Militarization of America's Cities

Hat tip to Naked Capitalism:

By Danny Sjursen, a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Originally published at TomDispatch.

Danny Sjursen, "I remember both so well"

"This… thing, [the War on Drugs] this ain’t police work… I mean, you call something a war and pretty soon everybody gonna be running around acting like warriors… running around on a damn crusade, storming corners, slapping on cuffs, racking up body counts… pretty soon, damn near everybody on every corner is your f**king enemy. And soon the neighborhood that you’re supposed to be policing, that’s just occupied territory.” — Major “Bunny” Colvin, season three of HBO’s The Wire

Brutal Connections:

As in Baghdad, so in Baltimore. It’s connected, you see. Scholars, pundits, politicians, most of us in fact like our worlds to remain discretely and comfortably separated. That’s why so few articles, reports, or op-ed columns even think to link police violence at home to our imperial pursuits abroad or the militarization of the policing of urban America to our wars across the Greater Middle East and Africa.

I mean, how many profiles of the Black Lives Matter movement even mention America’s 16-year war on terror across huge swaths of the planet? Conversely, can you remember a foreign policy piece that cited Ferguson? I doubt it.

Danny on his law enforcement background:

Please understand this: for me when it comes to the police, it’s nothing personal. A couple of my uncles were New York City cops. Nearly half my family has served or still serves in the New York Fire Department. I’m from blue-collar, civil service stock. Good guys, all. But experience tells me that they aren’t likely to see the connections I’m making between what’s happening here and what’rsquo;s been happening in our distant war zones or agree with my conclusions about them. In a similar fashion, few of my peers in the military officer corps are likely to agree, or even recognize, the parallels I’ve drawn.

Money quote:

The widespread perpetuation of uneven policing and criminal (in)justice can be empirically shown. Consider the numerous critical Justice Department investigations of major American cities. But what concerns me in all of this is a simple enough question: What happens to the republic when the militarism that is part and parcel of our now more or less permanent state of war abroad takes over ever more of the prevailing culture of policing at home?

A very well sourced analysis:

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ggersh's picture

in amerika. Great read, thanks.

13 users have voted.

"In 2008, Beijing and Washington pumped in massive amounts of money to bail out speculators in the name of saving the economy and helping workers. The reality is that they used workers’ money to enrich parasites." Andy Xie

Arrow's picture

You get a Rec. anyway MM.

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I want a Pony!

thanatokephaloides's picture


5 minutes...

You get a Rec. anyway MM.

5 minutes?

I recced him here; is there something I'm not getting?


6 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Deja's picture


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"The gatekeepers must change."

Arrow's picture

@Deja sorry it's about MM's comment on EB
Sorts an inside joke I guess.

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I want a Pony!

Meteor Man's picture

@thanatokephaloides @thanatokephaloides
I posted this 5 minutes behind The Evening Blues and this was one of joe's featured articles. One of those coincidence thingies.

4 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

snoopydawg's picture

when TigerSwan was in charge of the DAPL protests, they often referred to the protesters as insurgents, not people.

There is no reason for swat teams and their military humvees to barge into people's homes in the middle of the night to arrest them for drugs.

We've heard that many times this results in innocent people being killed as well as their pets. This happens more frequently than we hear and we rarely hear about them going to the wrong address with the same results.
People are going to respond to someone breaking into their homes at night. And with no knock warrants, does anyone think that the person who is deeply asleep is going to hear them shout "police"? When they don't hear that, they reach for their guns and police are going to shoot anyone with one.

This happened in my city a few years ago. Police went to a person's home in the middle of the night because he was seen smoking pot. The person killed a officer because he thought that he was being invaded.
Police can watch people's schedules and arrest them when they walk out their doors or any other place where they aren't at risk of killing subjects or being killed.
This tactic is beyond stupid.

As I have stated previously in this type of essay, Ray Balko's book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop is an excellent read about how the War on drugs got started and how it has continually eroded our rights. Uncle Biden was always there to give police more power and give us less.

The other issues that came from the war on drugs in regards to police was the militarization of police and their creeping responses to any protests that get in the way of profits.
Most protests don't become violent until the militarized police show up.
For what reason were they needed at the OWS or the DAPL protests?
And as has been noticed, they are conspicuously absent whenever protesters show up armed.

Good essay, mm.

8 users have voted.

The Democratic Party under Bill Clinton transformed itself into the traditional Republican Party, and the Republican Party moved, was pushed, so far to the right it became insane