Marines Seek to Use U.S. Cities to Train 'Invasion' Forces
By S. Brian Willson

In what are being reported as done deals prior to public input, hundreds of Marines and sailors will "invade" Monterey on March 13, and thousands more Alameda and Oakland on March 15-18, participating in urban counter- "terrorist" exercises.

Previously, after completing exercises in four other U.S. cities, the Marines and sailors were denied permission for a similar invasion in San Francisco. Hovercrafts, helicopters, fighter jets and various ground military vehicles will be involved. Marines will fire thousands of blanks and use laser-tag weapons and grenades and other high-tech gadgetry in mock combat with "terrorists" possessing "weapons of mass destruction" and civilian noncombatants. High-tech communications using global satellite positioning systems will coordinate the exercises.

The Marines claim a need to practice counter-"terrorist" operations in coastal cities. They argue that the "battlescapes of the 21st century" will arise from problems in increasingly congested urban areas where eliminating an "asymmetrical enemy using the city as a shield" will require new tactics and techniques.

In truth, these Marine "invasions" serve to uncritically condition citizens to accept escalated policies of militarization. They represent more of the same bully military approach to fundamental structural injustices.

Since the beginning of our republic, there have been more than 400 U.S. military interventions, often initiated by Marines landing in coastal cities, beginning in 1798 in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Only five of these interventions have been declared as war as required by our Constitution. Virtually all these interventions have been and continue to be in "third World" countries, the "enemy" being the poor and, for much of the 20th century, labeled as "Communist."

Thus, U.S. Marines and sailors have been practicing and refining their destabilizing intervention techniques throughout the world, "eliminating enemies" for more than 200 years. The primary uniqueness of these exercises is their dangerous expansion of training areas from long-standing designated military installations into any civilian urban areas the Pentagon can apparently get away with, threatening civil liberties. They now fight "terrorists," the new pretext replacing out-of-date "Communists," and against an "asymmetrical enemy," apparently a new euphemism for the struggling poor.

There is a common thread to these numerous targets of U.S. interventions: peoples' desire for self-determination, independent of imposed U.S. objectives.

Historically, U.S. foreign policy is driven by an intense appetite and a demand that the standard of living of Americans, representing just 4.5 percent of the world's population, be maintained by denying justice for a majority of the world's 6 billion people. Blindness to our history of lawless aggression is a condition necessary to enabling its continuance.

General A.M. Gray, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1990 identified our threats as originating from the "underdeveloped world's growing dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations," creating "a fertile breeding ground for insurgencies which have the potential to jeopardize regional stability and our access to vital economic and military resources." Gray understood the structural problem but was unable to envision a just structural solution.

General Smedley D. Butler (the most highly decorated Marine in U.S. history), concluded correctly after his retirement in 1931 that during his 33 years as a Marine operating on three continents, he served "as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers . . . a gangster for capitalism." Butler understood the more honest function of the Marines (and U.S. foreign policy in general) was to forcefully maintain structures protecting the haves from the have-nots.

Preparation for "terrorist" attacks - the chances of which are ironically increased due to our continued, aggressive foreign policies, often in violation of international law, carried out with a double standard - substitutes for addressing historical injustices.

When Washington commits to being a law-abiding member of the international community, practicing the golden rule principles of do unto others as you would have done unto you, the root causes of "terrorism" will be dramatically reduced.

S. Brian Willson is a Vietnam veteran who currently serves as co-chairman of the John Steinbeck IV Veterans for Peace, Chapter 46, in Monterey (831) 373-5599.

(Reprint, Ed Rachles/The Chronicle, February 1999)

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

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