Season’s greetings from all of us at FTB! After a number of career transitions among the editorial team in 2022, we’re aiming to get things back up and running for the new year (contact us if you’d be interested in pitching or pitching in!). For now, check out our picks for last-minute gifts for all of the budding Lailas Ujaili and Alis Wyne in your life.
Antiwar AF T-shirts, WWW
Sometimes it is just better to be blunt. Raining bombs and missiles down on hungry children to feed a rapacious, racist, colonialist war machine is anything but polite, so why not let your freak flag fly? Win Without War’s Antiwar AF shirt is a great way of letting the Fellow Kids know you are down with dismantling the Military Industrial Complex and proceeds help us do things like buy mobile billboards to hassle the NRA and militaristic members of Congress, which should fill anyone with holiday joy.
Tell your grandma that AF means All Friends if you don’t want her to give you that disappointed look if you need to. The shirts (and other fun swag) are available at the WWW store: https://www.cafepress.com/WinWithoutWar.
Reconsidering Reparations, by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò
The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War. Charting the Rise and Fall of U.S. Military Emissions, by Neta C. Crawford
Two books I read this year clarified a lot to me about how to think about climate change. The first, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò’s Reconsidering Reparations, starts from a premise as radical as it is obvious: the fact that some people are vastly more vulnerable to climate disaster than others doesn’t come from nowhere. The contours of the climate crisis are shaped by centuries of intertwined colonialism, racism, and capital accumulation, and each person’s climate vulnerability is at least as much the result of how those forces have acted on them as it is of changing weather patterns or average temperatures. This is the reality obscured by most mainstream climate discourse, which presents climate change as a threat so totalizing as to leave all humanity equally at risk of facing an apocalyptic outcome. Táíwò offers a crucial corrective to that view, urging us to view the harms of climate change as being mediated by historical violence, and to pursue climate change policies that aim to repair that violence.
Táíwò’s philosophical argument is buttressed by the historical one made by political scientist Neta Crawford in The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War. Crawford’s book is an impressive feat of historical reconstruction, drawing on a wide array of historical sources to make careful, credible estimates of just how much greenhouse gas the US military has released into the atmosphere since the steamship age. But Crawford also makes a broader argument about how militarism – often in pursuit of the colonial, racist, capitalistic ends Táíwò describes – helped create our toxic fossil fuel economy. This “deep cycle,” as Crawford calls it, in which the militaries of hegemonic states seek strategic advantages in energy and end up structuring civilian economies around their preferences, both explains much of how we got to the precipice of climate disaster and points to a way forward. Breaking the deep cycle, and pursuing the reparative justice Táíwò calls for, requires removing the military from its apex position in our economic order.
The Economic Weapon, by Nicholas Mulder
Past FTB contributor Nicholas Mulder’s The Economic Weapon is a gripping and insightful history of how economic sanctions came to be the approved form of non-warfare warfare for the United States and numerous other Western countries. Come for the discussion of pre-WW1 manganese trade, stay for an argument that over-reliance on economic sanctions by League of Nations powers helped lay the groundwork for WW2! Available in paperback and even audiobook form.
Friends of the Blog
For last-minute shopping, consider the gift of greater worldly knowledge! Subscriptions to friends-of-the-blog include:
- Foreign Exchanges (Derek Davison) – 25% off through the end of the year
- Inkstick Media – a 501(c)3, so consider making a donation through the end of the year!
- Jewish Currents – with plenty of coverage on foreign policy (from the left), immigration, and international solidarity, consider a subscription to the gorgeous print edition today ($12 off a 2-year subscription)
- Forever Wars (Spencer Ackerman & Sam Thielman) – couldn’t get enough of Reign of Terror? The adventure continues!
- Discourse Blog – writings on a range of topics, but inclusive of international media coverage, humanitarian fallout from the war in Ukraine, and the enduring presence (sigh) of Henry Kissinger
Golden Parachute, courtesy of the United Arab Emirates
For the retiring multi-star general or admiral in your life, you can do little better than dealing them in to the wild world of grifting that is post-retirement “advising” to repressive authoritarian regimes across the Middle East and North Africa. Join such luminaries as Jim Mattis, Stephen Toumajan, and Charles F. Bolden, Jr. in topping up taxpayer-funded pensions and benefits with training courses in how to build up a military as bloated and inefficient as ours!
Electric Humvee Battery, by General Motors
The blob has also been thinking about climate and militarism lately, but they have a slightly different take than Táíwò and Crawford. Rather than seek accountability from the military and its suppliers for their role in driving climate change, the blob is focused on how to maximize the military-industrial complex’s profits from responding to a crisis they helped create. This impulse drives a series of ludicrous research and development efforts meant to charge up contractor bank accounts, with sponsored content in usual-suspect think tanks paving the way. The best way to meaningfully cut military emissions? Cut the size of the military – and along with it, the contracts that help make the top 12 US defense contractors a bigger source of greenhouse emissions than DoD itself!