On The Monitor this week:
- The Saudi attack on Yemen is using Billions of dollars worth of US-supplied weapons. Is the US-Saudi relationship contributing to instability in the region? We talk with William Hartung
- The White House Military proposes a ban on the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and a restriction on the availability of others. How does this impact the problem of police-community relations? We talk with Justin Hansford
More about this week’s guests:
William Hartung is a senior advisor to the Security Assistance Monitor and the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He just wrote the piece “It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair,” about the White House “summit” with leaders from Arabian Peninsula monarchies which states: “In its first five years in office, the Obama administration entered into formal agreements to transfer over $64 billion in arms and defense services to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, with about three-quarters of that total going to Saudi Arabia. And new offers worth nearly $15 billion have been made to Riyadh in 2014 and 2015. Items on offer to GCC states have included fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, radar planes, refueling aircraft, air-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, artillery, small arms and ammunition, cluster bombs, and missile defense systems.”
Hartung is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2011) and the co-editor, with Miriam Pemberton, of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Press, 2008). His previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations. From July 2007 through March 2011, Mr. Hartung was the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. Prior to that, he served as the director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute. He also worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams. Bill Hartung’s articles on security issues have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and the World Policy Journal. He has been a featured expert on national security issues on CBS 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, the Lehrer Newshour, CNN, Fox News, and scores of local, regional, and international radio outlets. He blogs for the Huffington Post and TPM Café.
Recent news coverage: A representative of Doctors Without Boarders has a piece in the Washington Post on Thursday: “The Saudi-led blockade is devastating Yemen.” Earlier this week, AP reported: “Iran’s navy said Tuesday it will protect an aid ship traveling to Yemen.”
Justin Hansford is an Assistant Professor at the University of St. Louis School of Law. Professor Hansford’s research incorporates legal history, legal ethics, critical race theory, human rights, and the Global Justice Movement in a broader attempt to interrogate injustice in society. He has a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a founder of The Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives. He joined the law faculty after clerking for Judge Damon Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and he has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to study the legal career of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Living just 10 minutes from Ferguson, Hansford has been at the forefront of legal organizing and advocacy in the aftermath of the murder of Mike Brown. He co-authored the Ferguson to Geneva human rights shadow report, accessible at http://fergusontogeneva.org/(link is external), and accompanied the Ferguson Protesters and Mike Brown’s family to Geneva, Switzerland to testify at the United Nations. He has served as a policy advisor for proposed post-Ferguson reforms at the local, state, and federal level, testifying before the Ferguson Commission, the Missouri Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission, and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
As a result of his work in Ferguson, Hansford has been featured in the USA Today, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Ebony, and the Globe and Mail, and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, National Public Radio other national and local news outlets. He has been honored by the National Bar Association as one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40, selected as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar by the Aspen Institute, and recently was named by Revolt TV as one of the 25 New Leaders of Social Justice.
Here is Hansford’s testimony before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Background: The New York Times reports: “President Obama on Monday will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply restrict the availability of others, administration officials said.”
Guest Quote: “This seems like a step in the right direction. But remember, neither Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, nor Eric Garner were killed with grenade launders or tanks. Racial targeting and anti-black police violence can survive demilitarization. At the base, the danger is that this is a way to ‘deracialize’ the debate, and make it about anything other than race. But even so, militarization plays a role in the eagerness police have to use force in black communities, and the use of militarized tactics in SWAT raids of the type that killed Ayanna Jones in Detroit. It limits police officers’ ability to relate to people as individuals, or to find ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to force. Currently, many American police see minority communities not as citizens but as enemies and targets. Militarization makes it worse.”