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
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.
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: