Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Frida Berrigan Speaks in Des Moines

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Frida Berrigan Speaks in Des Moines

Article excerpt

NEW AMERICA Foundation senior program associate for the Arms and Security Initiative Frida Berrigan, daughter of the late antiwar activist Philip Berrigan, spoke at Grace United Methodist Church (GUMC) in Des Moines on Sept. 23.

"The money for war will continue to be available at the cost of everything else," she replied to this reporter's question about the impact of the economic crisis on U.S. Middle East foreign policy and a potential war against Iran, the war in Afghanistan, and the continuing occupation of Iraq.

"I think the military as a whole will suffer, will be under-resourced in some ways," Berrigan elaborated, "as the money going to the corporations like Lockheed-Martin for the big ticket billion-dollar systems that clog up the military budget and, even from a military perspective, have no real relevance for the current wars in which we are engaged, will continue."

Even though Barack Obama has spoken of ending the war in Iraq, Berrigan pointed out, his plans include an increased military presence in Afghanistan.

"It's not like the troops would come home," she noted. "They'd be moved to Afghanistan. And the situation in Pakistan continues to be very, very hot and very, very tricky."

The Bush administration-and, going back decades, other administrations-have sought to bring stability to the troubled Middle East by supplying military aid and weapons of war, Berrigan observed.

"We saw this most recently in the $20 billion weapons [sale] package that went to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, and an attendant commitment to Israel for continued high levels of military aid through the next decade. So, that's how we're trying to buy 'peace'-which is absurd, which is completely absurd," she said.

Moreover, she continued, "It hasn't worked at all. We haven't gotten our money's worth. But this is the dynamic that has been established, this is the expectation that has been set.

"Israel is dependent upon that military aid; it's dependent upon military support. U.S. protection gives them freedom of action. We saw that very clearly in the war against Hezbollah in 2006, and that dynamic will be very difficult to change," Berrigan predicted. …

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