Friday, October 28, 2011


What happened at the Oakland OWS?

Why were police firing tear gas at demonstrators?

I offer one explanation:

Strategic US policy makers have been anticipating civil unrest in the U.S. because of growing inequality, lack of opportunity, and outright desperation and have pre-emptively militiarized the police.

Strategic planning documents and analyses created by institutions such as the Rand Corporation and the Dept. of Homeland Security particularly cited the potential for returning veterans to be, quote, "radicalized.”

And some returning veterans have been radicalized for good reasons. Many understand the lies that have fostered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and they return to an economically depressed society, whose efforts at demonstrating dismay and disgust are being met with repressive police forces.

The strategic documents anticipated all of these developments and their proposed solution is to MILITIARIZE DOMESTIC POLICE through training by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. 

In what follows I provide some background, drawing upon my book Governing Childhood:

In November 2008 the Strategic Studies Institute issued a report titled “Known Unknowns: Uncoventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development” authored by Nathan Freier. The report summary explains its objectives to anticipate and develop contingency plans for unconventional “dangerous future shocks” that “manifest themselves in ways far outside established defense convention” (vii). Although most of the shocks are anticipated to be “nonmilitary in origin and character,” Department of Defense (DoD) planning is recommended. The types of shocks included in this planning document include the following:

Threats of context might include but are not limited to contagious un- and under-governance; civil violence; the swift catastrophic onset of consequential natural, environmental, and/or human disaster; a rapidly expanding and uncontrollable transregional epidemic; and the sudden crippling instability or collapse of a large and important state. Indeed, pushing at the boundaries of current convention, it would be prudent to add catastrophic dislocation inside the United States or homegrown domestic civil disorder and/or violence to this category as well. (p. 17)

The report explains that most of these “contextual threats” are the origins of shocks since they operate as triggers or catalysts. The DoD will be forced to “fundamentally reorient strategy, capabilities, investments, and concepts in response” (p. 18). Shocks emerging within or external to the U.S. would force the DoD “to radically re-role for domestic security, population control, consequence management, and stabilization” (p. 18).

Paths to domestic civil violence that would require the DoD to reorient priorities “to defend basic domestic order and human security” include deployment of “weapons of mass destruction, unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and economic order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency,” etc (p. 32). Civil violence might require the “use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States” (p. 33). Moreover, the DoD “would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance” (p. 33). In other words, the report outlines when and how the DoD would assume responsibility for direct domestic governance

The American Civil Liberties Union reports that DoD terrorism training materials currently employed describe public protests as “low level terrorism” (“ACLU Challenges”). Additionally, the Pentagon plans to have 20,000 uniformed trained troops inside the U.S. by 2011, purportedly to help state and local officials respond to a terrorist attack or some other domestic catastrophe (Hsu and Tyson A1). The Washington Post reports resistance to this plan

Domestic emergency deployment may be "just the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority," or even an increase in domestic surveillance, said Anna Christensen of the ACLU's National Security Project. And Cato Vice President Gene Healy warned of "a creeping militarization" of homeland security. (Hsu and Tyson A1)

Domestic policing has been militiarized as a strategy for repressively containing the growing civil unrest over the declining economy, the outrageously criminal banking sector, and the corrupt and inefficient government (both parties implicated here).

Thus, we can understand the incident in Oakland where a young veteran's head was cracked by what appears to have been a tear gas canister at a demonstration against corruption and inequality.

ACLU. “ACLU Challenges Defense Department Personnel Policy To Regard Lawful Protests As ‘Low-Level Terrorism.’”ACLU. 10 June 2009. 24 June 2009

Freier, Nathan. “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development.” Strategic Studies Institute November 2008. 12 December 2008

Hsu, Spencer S., and Ann S. Tyson. “Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security.” The Washington Post 1 December 2008: A1.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” U.S. Department of Homeland Security 7 April 2009. 3 May 2009 

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