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The Militarization of the World's Urban Peripheries

World  (tags: militarization, urban poor, poverty )

- 4136 days ago -
Control of the urban poor is the most important objective planned by governments, global financial organisms, and the armed forces of the most important countries.


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Marc G (142)
Sunday February 17, 2008, 3:46 am
From the article:
"Despite supporting pull-out from Iraq as soon as possible, Lind defends “total war,” which engages enemies on all fronts: economic, cultural, social, political, communications, and also military.

A good example of this full-spectrum war is his belief that the dangers for United States hegemony lie in all aspects of daily life, or, if you prefer, in life itself. For example, he believes that “in Fourth Generation War, invasion by immigration can be at least as dangerous as invasion by a state army.” New problems rooted in the “universal crisis of the legitimacy of the state” have “non-state enemies” at the center. This leads him to conclude with a double warning to military leaders: no state military has succeeded against a non-state enemy.

This problem is at the heart of new military modalities of thinking, which must be completely reformulated to face challenges that used to correspond to “civilian” areas of the state apparatus. Militarization of society in order to regain control of urban peripheries is not enough, as revealed in recent military experience in the Third World.

Military commanders deployed in Iraq seem to be clearly aware of the problems they must face. Cavalry Division Commander General Peter W. Chiarelli, based on his recent experience on the outskirts of Baghdad in Sadr City, maintains that security is the long-term objective, but it will not be achieved through military action alone. “Executing traditionally focused combat operations … works, but only for the short term. In the long term, doing so hinders true progress and, in reality, promotes the growth of insurgent forces working against campaign objectives.”6

This implies that the two traditional armed forces lines of operation—combat and the training of local security forces—are insufficient. Therefore, three “nontraditional” lines of operation should be undertaken; ones that previously corresponded to the government and civil society: essential services provided to the population, building a legitimate government, and empowering “economic pluralism,” that is, a market economy.

With infrastructure repair projects they attempt to improve the situation of the poorest sector of the population and, at the same time, create employment opportunities to send visible signs of progress. In the second place, creating a “democratic” regime is considered an essential point for legitimizing the whole process. For United States commanders in Iraq, the “point of penetration” of their troops occurred with the Jan. 30, 2005 elections. In strategic thought democracy was reduced to producing a vote.

Finally, the recruitment ability of the insurgents can be reduced through the expansion of market logic, “by ‘gentrifying’ city centers and creating business parks,” that become a dynamic sector stimulating the rest of society.7 From then on, the poor population in urban peripheries becomes, in military jargon, “the strategic and operational center of gravity.”

This combination of mechanisms is what the major global powers’ armed forces today consider the means to achieve “true long-term security.” In this way, “democracy,” expansion of services, and a market economy will cease being citizens’ rights or morally desirable objectives and become gears in a strategy of military control over a population or a region of the world and, of course, its resources."

"It seems necessary to emphasize that international cooperation, development aid, and the war against poverty—some of the favorite slogans of the World Bank and other financial agencies—are merely strategies to control and subordinate the population that is “potentially” rebellious or resistant to the objectives of U.S. multinationals."

Marc G (142)
Sunday February 17, 2008, 3:52 am
"In his reflection on Nazism in “On the Concept of History,” German writer Walter Benjamin declared that “the tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the state of exception in which we live is the rule.” United States policy since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, fits the concept of a “state of permanent exception.” The “state of exception,” which suspends civil rights and militarizes areas and complete nations, is applied in an indiscriminate way to different situations and for different reasons, from internal political problems to external threats, from an economic emergency to a natural disaster.

In effect, the state of exception was applied in situations such as the Argentine economic-financial crisis that burst into a broad social movement in December 2001, the response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the containment of the rebellion by poor immigrants in the peripheries of French cities in 2005. The common thread, beyond circumstances and countries, is that in every case it is applied in order to contain the urban poor."

Past Member (0)
Sunday February 17, 2008, 10:35 am

"For United States commanders in Iraq, the “point of penetration” of their troops occurred with the Jan. 30, 2005 elections. In strategic thought democracy was reduced to producing a vote."

Yup. That's what it amounts to here, even if there's no real choice between the candidate agendas, and even if the votes don't get counted or are lost, switched, or miscounted. As long as they can produce a vote, they can call it a "democracy." Precisely why I've been advocating an election boycott.

Very important article, Marc. Thanks for posting. Noted, and will pass this along to friends.

David S (55)
Monday February 18, 2008, 2:24 am
This is also about the belief that the greatest danger to the global political and economic order rests in places where resources are now sourced and goods are manufactured at the lowest cost lest the profits of globalization be threatened by people, having security, who should then seek better living standards and working conditions.

Sandra M Z (114)
Tuesday February 19, 2008, 10:09 pm
Noted, thanks Marc.
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