Summit A Show Of Force
By Paul Heise
May 24, 2012 "Information
-- The NATO summit held in Chicago last weekend reflects
everything that is wrong with our society.
The NATO summit put on display how we can and do conjure up
foreign and domestic threats to justify government control of
our society. For it is fear that justifies not just our obscene
military spending, but more importantly, the official violation
of our civil and constitutional rights and the concession of
political power to corporations.
This fear is then used to justify a growing military alliance
even when there is no credible threat. It is the basis for the
militarization of our police force, the erosion of our civil
liberties and globalization of our economy.
This fear arises because the United States, more than any other
country, still lives in the shadow of the Cold War. The culture
of fear created at that time and continuing to this day frames
our every government action and our federal spending of almost
$1 trillion per year on our "security." The NATO summit is the
celebration of that culture of fear and constitutes a show of
The governing elite in the industrialized world, and these are
the people who attend the summit, have framed their governance
task in terms of security, not growth, freedom or peace. It is
absurd, but we spend billions of dollars on antimissile
batteries in Poland and Romania and the newly dreamed up East
Coast Missile Shield to guard against Iran, which is not and
never will be a threat.
Ronald Reagan's Star Wars film fantasies continue to haunt us
and cost us. The only thing they guard is the profits of the
military-industrial-security corporations and their Congress.
We are supposed to fear not just Russian missiles, Muslim
fanatics and the very idea of China but any organized group that
protests the militarization and globalization of our society.
And there were protesters aplenty in Chicago: the Rainbow PUSH
Coalition, National Nurses United, Occupy Wall Street, the
Mental Health Movement, Iraqi Veterans against the War, Poverty
Agenda, Muslim Peace Council, the Coalition against NATO/G8 War
and Poverty Agenda, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Occupy
Chicago, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and many more.
In total, 60 people were arrested, but no one anywhere that I
could find, pro or con, gave an estimate for the number of
protesters. Now that is really tight control.
Prior to the summit, the FBI and Chicago Police Department
regularly announced dire warnings of terrorism, chaos and
violence. None of this materialized, but it did intimidate and
deter as intended. The best the police could come up with were
some guys they accused of making Molotov cocktails - or maybe
beer. Most of the detainees have been released; few were
The Chicago NATO Summit was creating fear not only with all the
shiny new equipment but also the latest in unconstitutional, but
supposedly legal, police tactics. The police can and did use
pre-emptive arrest, holding without charges, disappearances and
threats of charges of terrorism to create fear. In the far
western suburbs no one was allowed to get on the train to the
Loop with a backpack or any liquid. Most of the downtown transit
stations were closed.
This NATO Summit was, in effect, a show of force. The G-8 Summit
about joblessness was more important. It had to be hidden at
Camp David in Maryland.
This might be an age of government austerity, but not when it
comes to security for a NATO summit. In just the last couple of
months, Chicago police have spent more than $1 million on riot
gear getting ready for this summit. The city even bought a sound
cannon to be used to disperse crowds.
Homeland Security spending is where the real money is, and not
just in Chicago. Fargo, N.D., hardly a hotbed of terrorism, used
$8 million to arm its police officers with assault rifles and
Kevlar helmets in every squad car. They bought an armored truck
with a rotating turret for $256,643. Its biggest use is for
Remember, this money is used to make property and wealth secure,
not life and limb or people - unless those people are
corporations. This spending creates austerity elsewhere, like in
our schools and hospitals.
And just in case you have any doubts about the readiness of our
government to manipulate the citizenry, a bipartisan amendment
to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 would remove
the 1948 ban on dishonest U.S. government propaganda aimed at
They will soon be able to legally misinform, that is lie to, the
American public to influence public opinion.
A resident of Mt. Gretna, Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and
is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College.
His column appears every other Thursday. He maintains past
columns and can be reached through his blog,
this article was first published at