By Norman Solomon
A lot of what we say and do becomes habit-forming. Groundhog Day 2013 could serve as a reminder that some political habits should be kicked. Here are a few:
** “Defense budget”
No, it’s not a defense budget. It’s a military budget. But countless people and organizations keep saying they want to cut “the defense budget” or reduce “defense spending.”
Anyone who wants to challenge the warfare state should dispense with this misnomer. We don’t object to “defense” -- what we do oppose, vehemently, is military spending that has nothing to do with real defense and everything to do with killing people, enforcing geopolitical control and making vast profits for military contractors. And no, they’re not “defense contractors.”
President Eisenhower’s farewell address didn’t warn against a “defense-industrial complex.”
The fact that there’s something officially called the Department of Defense -- formerly the Department of War, until 1947 -- doesn’t make its huge budget a “defense budget,” any more than renaming the Bureau of Prisons “the Bureau of Love” would mean we should talk about wanting to cut the “love budget.”
Last week, midway through a heated debate on the PBS “NewsHour,” the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America said that some politicians get elected while hiding their extreme anti-abortion positions -- but would be rejected at the ballot box “if they ran on their pro-life values.”
“Pro-life” values? Not a label that abortion-rights advocates should use for opponents of a woman’s right to choose an abortion. One of the main reasons those opponents keep calling themselves “pro-life” is they want to imply that supporters of abortion rights are anti-life. Why help?
In many realms, globalization can be positive, even essential. For instance, wonderful results flow from globalizing solidarity among workers around the world. Likewise, the planetary spread of awareness and cooperation among people taking action to protect the environment, stop human-rights abuses and end war.
Corporate globalization is another matter. Its destructive effects are lashing every continent with voracious commercialization along with exploitive races to the bottom for cheap labor, extraction of raw materials, privatization, flattening of protective tariffs, overriding of national laws that protect workers and replacement of democratic possibilities with the rule of big money.