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For this post, I decided to look around the front of the library for a book that might relate to our class, and was surprised to find front row, center, “The Economics of Killing: How the West Fuels War and Poverty in the Developing World” by Vijay Mehta. The title and cover art were what caused me to choose this book for our post, but it actually turned out to be a pretty interesting read (and not as morbid as its title suggests). The book investigates militarism and the usage of wars for profit and domination to identify the gulf between the wealth and stability of some coutnries, and the chaos and poverty of others. I then skipped ahead to one of the final chapters, “Replacing the Military-Industrial Complex – Making the Twenty-first Century of Soft Power”, which basically serves as a call to action to “Ordinary people in the US and Europe can do a great deal to embarrass their governments into replacing the military-industrial complex with a less harmful mode of international trade” (p. 149). I found this notion of empowering ordinary citizens to question their governments and challenge the status quo to coincide with many of the ideas proposed by our class. For example, in “Generation We” the author noted how our generation is one of the first to make changes directly, as opposed to going through other channels of authority (i.e. the government, corporate leaders). This sense of empowerment seems to be vital to creating a sustainable global environment, and also, according to Mehta, to change the world for the better.

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4 responses »

  1. Jim says:

    This sounds like a really interesting book. I was particularly intrigued by the quote which says that citizens have the power to embarrass their governments into changing the priority of military and military spending. It certainly sounds compelling, but I have trouble thinking of examples where individual citizens have succeeded in embarrassing a country (apart from political scandals) and I was wondering if you found any good examples or had any ideas of what this might look like? Maybe political scandals are what the author was implying?

    • Claire McCardell says:

      I actually didn’t get that far into the chapter to find any specific examples, but I think the author meant “embarrassing the government” to imply revealing the hidden agendas and motives behind waging wars and supporting/rejecting the governments of some developing countries. The central argument of the book (at least from what I understood by skimming through it) was that the Western powers use wars and tactical relationships to benefit themselves, while leaving others in perpetual poverty, and that this arrangement has been so deeply ingrained in our society that we believe it to be “normal.”

  2. Jordi says:

    Can you fix typos?

    We have a professor here, Kate McCoy, who studies privatization of the military. Fascinating subject.

  3. Jordi says:

    I think the Gen We solution is not as an individual to do something, but rather, to work on solutions as opposed to protesting en masse to the larger powers. In this case, maybe an example is that Konye 2012 campaign? Or, a group that works on solutions to the causes of conflict in those countries… not sure what that would be. But the thrust of yoru comment is accurate. Individuals don’t have that much power. However, entities like wikileaks may enable them to stretch their power if they are whistleblowers.

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