Academic journal article Social Justice

Neoliberalism, Militarism, and Armed Conflict

Academic journal article Social Justice

Neoliberalism, Militarism, and Armed Conflict

Article excerpt

Goals of This Special Issue

THE TREND TOWARD A NEOLIBERAL GLOBAL ECONOMY AND THE PREVALENCE OF militaries and militarism worldwide are often treated as separate, unrelated phenomena. Many activists and scholars who critique and challenge the negative effects of increasing global integration emphasize economic factors (e.g., Bales, 1999; Chossudovsky, 1997; Greider, 1997; Mander and Goldsmith, 1996; Sassen, 1998; Teeple, 1995). These include the fact that workers in one country are pitted against those of another as corporate managers seek to maximize profits, that systems of inequality based on gender, race, class, and nation are inherent in the international division of labor, that nation-states are cutting social welfare supports, that women and children experience superexploitation especially in countries of the global South, and that there is increasing polarization of material wealth between rich and poor countries, as well as within richer countries. Critics also point to the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Wor ld Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO), which require structural changes to make economies more profitable for private investors and to open markets for so-called free trade.

Activists and scholars who are concerned primarily with militarism and demilitarization critique the prevalence of war or the threat of war to resolve transnational and intranational disputes (e.g., Reardon, 1996; Hague Appeal for Peace, 1999). They point to bloated military budgets that absorb resources needed for socially useful programs in many countries, to the fact that civilians make up the vast majority of the casualties of contemporary warfare, and that massive numbers of people are displaced--90% of them women and children -- as a result of wars. They note the profitability of the arms trade. They also emphasize connections between militarism and violence against women, and the incidence of human rights violations in military conflicts.

We are not suggesting that such analysts and commentators see no overlap between these two clusters of issues. However, in critiquing and challenging neoliberal economic integration, it is essential to take account of militarism as an intrinsic element. Conversely, in analyzing militarism, war, and armed conflict, it is also necessary to consider global economic forces and institutions. The goal of this special issue, then, is to show how neoliberalism and militarism are inextricably linked.

In planning this issue, we sought to include articles from different parts of the world, with an emphasis on the work of activists. We believe this collection breaks new ground and we are excited about the material included here. Given U.S. dominance in the world, many of the articles inevitably focus on the U.S. government and U.S. corporations. We assume that the readers of this work will be academics involved in progressive issues, as well as organizers, activists, and students.

Editorial Perspectives

Our personal connections to this topic stem from life-changing experiences. Margo Okazawa-Rey undertook a research project of mixed-race Amerasian children abandoned by U.S. military fathers in South Korea (Okazawa-Rey, 1997). Gwyn Kirk was active in the women's peace movement that supported Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp in England in the early 1980s (Cook and Kirk, 1983; Kirk, 1989). The rape of a 12-year-old girl by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa (Japan) in September 1995 precipitated our first joint writing about the complex inequalities of gender, race, class, and nation that characterize U.S. military relations in East Asia (Okazawa-Rey and Kirk, 1996). As we learned more about U.S. military operations in the region and local opposition to it, we began to understand the interconnections between militarism and neoliberalism. In 1997, we founded the East Asia-U.S. Women's Network Against Militarism together with activists and scholars from Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. …

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