Kansas City, Missouri
This testimony was given at a forum of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
My name is Chris Overfelt and I’m with Veterans for Peace. I was a hydraulics mechanic in the Air Force from 2002 to 2011. During that time, I was deployed to Turkey and Qatar, and indirectly participated in the destruction of two sovereign nations, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Qatar, I repaired and maintained the aircraft that refueled the bombers on their way to sow death and destruction in Iraq. Neither of these countries will likely recover from that devastation in my lifetime. Nothing I can ever do in my life will make up for the hundreds of thousands Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children killed in these wars.
When I joined the military, I had no idea that the United States military has over a thousand bases worldwide. Why do we keep such a strong presence throughout the world? The short answer is to provide western capital with continuous access to foreign resources and markets. Most of the military budget is used not fight wars, but to exercise soft power in the support of American capital.
I want to give just one quick example of this soft power to illustrate the point. In 2005 in Honduras, Manuel Zelaya was elected president. He was a left-leaning president who quickly proposed land reforms to limit the powerful international mining and fruit corporations in the country.
The Honduran military, like in many Latin American countries, for decades has been armed and trained at the School of Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2009, the Honduran military kidnapped President Zelaya and deposed him from office.
The head of the United States Southern Command at that time was General John Kelly, who is now President Trump’s Chief of Staff. Fast-forward to November 2017. Elections were held in Honduras that were recognized as fraudulent throughout the world, [keeping] a man named Juan Orlando Hernandez in power. It is only with the backing of the United States military weapons and training that he can stay in power. [In 2018] the Honduran military killed 31 men, women and children who protested Hernandez’ inauguration.
When I joined the military, I had no idea that the best way to end American militarism abroad is to end it here in our communities. There are 4 ways to do this.
End the occupation of our minority communities by the police.
End the war on drugs.
Provide access to healthcare and education to all people.
And end the war on immigrants by defunding ICE and the border patrol.