Change is only a word

Alexander Cockburn, co-editor of Counterpunch, on a necessary reality check:

Obama invokes change. Yet never has the dead hand of the past had a “reform” candidate so firmly by the windpipe. Is it possible to confront America’s problems without talking about the arms budget? The Pentagon is spending more than at any point since the end of the Second World War. In “real dollars” – an optimistic concept these days – the $635bn (…£400bn) appropriated in fiscal 2007 is 5 per cent above the previous all-time high, reached in 1952. Obama wants to enlarge the armed services by 90,000. He pledges to escalate the US war in Afghanistan; to attack Pakistan’s territory if it obstructs any unilateral US mission to kill Osama bin Laden; and to wage a war against terror in a hundred countries, creating a new international intelligence and law enforcement “infrastructure” to take down terrorist networks. A fresh start? Where does this differ from Bush’s commitment on 20 September 2001, to an ongoing “war on terror” against “every terrorist group of global reach” and “any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism”?

The arms industry remains a deadly killer:

From Nobel laureates to human rights activists to former military commanders, calls are on the rise for the international community to stand up against those who are making billions of dollars by selling illicit arms around the world.

“It is time to end the slaughter,” said Desmond Tutu, the Noble Peace Prize winning archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, in a statement urging the 192-member UN General Assembly to adopt the proposed Arms Trade Treaty…

Studies show that at least a third of a million people are killed every year with conventional weapons, many of which are used by human rights abusers due to the poorly regulated international arms market. That’s the equivalent of about 1,000 deaths each day.