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June 4, 2019

Gun violence, wars and conflicts

Opinion

June 4, 2019

President Trump and his tedious acolytes may be dreaming of a swashbuckling victory in a possible confrontation with Tehran that the warmongers sitting in the power corridor of Washington have been planning in the name of security. But it seems that they have miserably failed in protecting the lives of innocent Americans from the gun violence that has plagued the second largest democracy of the world for decades. The merciless killings of innocent people last Friday in Virginia clearly reflect the apathy of the American ruling elite towards its citizens.

This is not the first incident of its kind. Mass shootings have rocked the US several times in the last few decades but the corporate media is adroit at detecting a far bigger enemy than the merchants of deaths who encourage the massacre of Americans by advocating an unbridled freedom for guns. On the pretext of the second amendment, they want to help arms dealers make more money at the cost of Americans' lives.

It is estimated that more Americans perished in gun violence between 1968 and 2015 than in all conflicts since the American revolutionary war of 1775-1783. The American revolutionary war engulfed the lives of 4,435 people, the war of 1812, the Mexican war and the civil war (union and confederates) claimed 2,260, 13283 and 750,000 lives respectively. The Spanish-American war caused the deaths of 2,446, World War I 116,516, World War II 405399, Korean War 36574, Vietnam War 58220, Gulf War of 1991 383, Afghanistan War 2363 and the invasion of Iraq 4492. Around 362 were killed in other wars that include Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia and Haiti. So, as many as 1,396,733 Americans lost their lives in all conflicts from the American revolutionary war to 2015.

But the number of innocent people who were mowed in gun violence is a staggering 1,516,863 from 1968 to 2015. More mass shootings have taken place since then. At least 39,773 gun-related deaths were reported in 2017 alone – the highest in the last fifty years. According to CNN, at least 38 mass shootings have occurred since 1947. This is just the number of deaths. Thousands others have been wounded in these lethal incidents. The loss of precious lives on such a scale should have been enough for any ruling elite to spring into action, but it seems that all American rulers are helpless against the tide of this gun violence.

The American ruling elite pumps billions of dollars into defence. It military budget is believed to be larger than several giant countries. It has more than 800 military bases in over 150 states. The corrosive behaviour of American potentates has led to the killings of millions in several parts of the world – 30 million to 70 million in Vietnam, three million in Korea and more than 2.5 million in Iraq. The greed of arms manufacturers and their gargantuan appetite for profit is not only playing havoc with the lives of non-Americans but Americans too.

Now, Trump's threats against Iran have created a specter of another conflagration. His pampering of the Zionist state of Israel and molly-coddling of Arab monarchs is a recipe for disaster. Only the American people can thwart the lunacy of neo-conservatives. It is only they who can foil the obnoxious designs of the axis of destruction – Bolton-Pompeo and Pence. It is they who can force their ruling elite to pay attention to far greater issues than this business of death and destruction.

One of the ways to deter the gang of three from imposing another war on the Middle East is to demand more money for health, education, social security, housing and welfare of vulnerable groups of society. Thousands of teachers recently took to the streets to demand more funding for educational institutions. Such demonstrations should become routine. Workers from all sectors of the economy should get united to offer a joint front to these warmongers who have been squandering the precious resources of the country on a few arms manufacturing companies. These lavish military or defence contracts bring only more coffins for Americans, while also pushing millions of Americans towards poverty.

It is time the American people started questioning the rationale of pumping around $700 billion dollars into defence. They need to ask why 5.3 million Americans, or 1.7 percent of the population, live on less than $4 per day and 40 million struggle with hunger despite the fact that the sole superpower is the richest country on earth brimming with several billionaires and millionaires. Why should the American ruling elite be allowed to spend over three trillion dollars on the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan? Why does the federal government that lavishes billions of dollars on Nasa and weapons testing allocate a meagre $68 billion for the education of Americans? Why does the sword of austerity not fall on banks that received over $800 billion in bailout packages in the past?

Only a diversion of resources to health, education, housing and other social amenities will make it difficult for the ruling elite to squander the hard-earned money of the American people on wars and conflicts. Politicians like Bernie Senders should come up with a comprehensive plan to reduce the defence budget and direct the resources of the nation towards the welfare of the people. If national wealth continues to flow into the pockets of Pentagon bosses, mandarins of arms manufacturing and contractors of the military, very little will be left to spend on human welfare.

American democracy has been hijacked by the military industrial complex. War has become a permanent feature of American foreign policy. Blitzkrieg of cities and strafing towns in other countries seem to have become a hobby of warmongers sitting in the power corridors of Washington. Plans of invasions and attacks witness no resistance in Congress where both Democrats and Republicans throw their support behind the agenda of the military industrial complex. The corporate media ratchets up the frenzy of war, overlooking the faulty intelligence reports and flimsy evidence against the targeted country.

The recent incident in Virginia should prompt the American people to question the apathy of their rulers towards the innocent lives that are lost in such incidents. This incident should lead to a massive movement across American cities that should not only demand a permanent ban on arms inside the country but should also force American rulers to give up their habit of exporting wars and conflicts. No war or conflict will provide security to the American masses.

But no such movement is likely to be successful without the help of Hollywood that has not only glamourized gun violence but also wars and conflicts besides creating a bogey-man for expansionist rulers and demonizing the alleged enemies of the American corporate world. The 35-billion dollar entertainment industry should now focus on the real problems of the American people – like homelessness, costly medical facilities and falling living standards. Celebrities and prominent personalities greatly influence public opinion in the sole superpower. For instance, thousands of conferences and seminars did not create as much awareness among the people about landmines as a few visits of late Princes Diana to areas laden with such lethal inventions of modern science. So, the role of celebrities is very crucial not only to tide over this menace of gun culture but of wars and conflicts as well.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

Email: [email protected]

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