Northcom, Africom and Other Threats

remember May 4, 1970 in October 2008?
It is the day that a clear message was sent with military might that
Americans are not immune from attacks felt around the world.

remember May 4, 1970 in October 2008?
It is the day that a clear message was sent with military might that
Americans are not immune from attacks felt around the world. On May 4, 1970,
also known as the May 4th Massacre, four students were killed and
many more injured at Kent State University by the National Guard. These students non-violently protested the
US attack on Cambodia and were made example of to show that militarism trumps
civil rights. Now, in 2008, an era
marked by increased military sophistication and unprecedented presence all over
the globe, the US military boasts over 700 bases worldwide, and on October 1,
2008 established the Africa Command, or Africom - for the last standing
continent that did not have a US military command. The real purpose and function of Africom remain unclear but what is no
mystery is that whatever Africom is up to, the mission has begun and the
governmental and civilian voices of dissent in Africa and the US have been
unable to stop it.

October 1,
2008 not only marks history for US-Africa relations but also on that same day,
the US also made history by deploying troop trained for combat in Iraq to the
Ft. Jackson base in Georgia on a mission as unarticulated as Africom. According to the Army Times, the 3rd
Infantry's 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) will serve under Northern
Command, or Northcom, as an "on-call federal response force for natural or
manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks." Prior to the establishment of Africom,
Northcom was the newest brand of US military expansionism. Established on October 1, 2002 under the
leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Northcom was created to
support civilian authorities like the police and fire departments in natural
and human disasters. It debuted in that
capacity in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina where US troops along with Blackwater
military contractor mercenaries patrolled the streets of New Orleans. Yet, 2008 marked history for Northcom as
this is the first time that it has a unit solely under its command. In the words of Northcom's commander General
Gene Renuart on, "On the first of October, we'll have an organized
force, a trained force, an equipped force, a force that has an adequate command
and control and is on quick response - 48 hours - to head off to a large-scale
nuclear, chemical, biological event that might require Department of Defense

The idea of
this quick response brigade trained for war should set off alarms in anyone
that recalls incidences such as the May 4th Massacre. With vague definitions of who and what
constitutes a terrorist and terrorist activities or even emergencies and
disasters, many Americans are subject to becoming future victims of this new
military mission. With economic
instability caused by the housing crisis and the plummeting stock market, civil
unrest is sure to rise. Will dissenters
be branded terrorists? Additionally, what about the already active and
increasing boldness of civil dissenters who demonstrate against the war in Iraq
and Afghanistan, environmental injustices and human rights violations
experienced by immigrants? What is
their fate under this Northcom mission?

On the website of Northcom, they attempt to ease
accusations of its potential to violate the Posse Comitatus Act - which
prohibits military forces from becoming directly involved in law enforcement.
However, Posse Comitatus does not prohibit military training or the
distribution of weaponry to police departments. So in a bad situation, police departments that serve as first
response can do so with sophisticated weaponry and war training and whatever
they cannot accomplish will be followed by this second (and quick)

So, it
appears that May 4, 1970 was not an exception in the state response to civil
disobedience but it was a prelude to a rule that has firmed up its mission as
of October 1, 2008. For all those who
were in Washington, DC to protest Africom on October 27th; for all those that are still healing
from the police attacks at the Democratic and Republican national conventions;
for all who bear witness to these vulgar violations of democracy and the
establishment of the military state, you are advised to ponder the words of
Marcus Garvey and "keep cool." Although
Garvey's wise counsel was of a different era, it still serves as food for the
scared and brave:

Let no trouble worry

Keep cool, keep cool!

just be brave and ever

Keep cool, keep cool!

If they'd put you in a

Though you should not
bear the blame,

Do not start to raising

Keep cool, keep cool.

"Keep Cool"
by Marcus Garvey (1927)

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