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Issue # 1425      26 August 2009

Reflections of Fidel

The empire and the robots

A little while ago, I wrote about US plans to impose the absolute superiority of its air forces as an instrument of domination over the rest of the world. I mentioned the project of that country possessing more than 1,000 state-of-the-art F-22 and F-35 bombers and fighter planes in its fleet of 2,500 military aircraft. In 20 years time, the totality of its warplanes will be robot-operated.

Military budgets always have the majority support of US legislators. There are very few states where employment is not at least partially dependent on the defence industry.

On a global level and constant value, military costs have doubled in the last 10 years, as if no danger of crisis existed at all. At this juncture it is the most prosperous industry on the planet.

In 2008, approximately US$1.5 trillion was invested in defence budgets. Forty-two percent of world spending on defence, or US$607 billion, corresponded to the United States, not including war expenditures, while the number of hungry in the world reached the figure of one billion people.

A Western news agency reported two days ago that in mid-August the US army exhibited a remote-controlled helicopter, as well as robots capable of doing the work of sappers, 2,500 of which have been sent to combat zones.

A robot marketing company maintained that new technologies are revolutionising the ways of conducting war. It has been published that in 2003 the US had next to no robots in its arsenal but according to press reports “today it has 10,000 ground vehicles and 7,000 aircraft, from the little Raven, which can be launched with one hand, to the giant Global Hawk, a spy plane of 13 metres in length and 35 in wingspan capable of flying at a great height for 35 hours.” Other weapons are listed in that dispatch.

While that colossal expenditure on technologies for killing is taking place in the United States, the president of that country is sweating blood in order to bring health services to 50 million US citizens who lack them. The confusion is so great that the new president affirmed that reform of the health system was closer than ever but “the battle is turning ugly.”

“But now’s the hard part,” he added. “Because the history is clear – every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests with a stake in the status quo use their influence and political allies to scare and mislead the American people.”

It is a true fact that in Los Angeles, 8,000 people – the majority of them unemployed – gathered in a stadium to receive medical attention from a free travelling clinic that provides services in the Third World. Most of them had waited there overnight. Some of them had travelled from hundreds of kilometres away.

“‘What do I care if it’s socialist or not? We are the only country in the world where the most vulnerable of us have nothing,” said a woman from a black neighbourhood.

It was noted that a “blood test could cost US$500 and routine dental treatment more than US$1,000.”

What hope can that society offer the world? Congressional lobbyists are spending their August working against a simple bill that is an attempt to provide medical care to tens of millions of poor people – the vast majority of them black or Latino – who lack that service. Even a blockaded country like Cuba has been able to do that and, moreover, cooperate with dozens of Third World countries.

If robots in the hands of the transnationals can replace the imperial soldiers in wars of conquest, who will detain the transnationals in the search for markets for their artefacts? Just as they have inundated the world with automobiles that are now competing with humans for the consumption of non-renewable energy and even for foodstuffs converted into fuel, they can also inundate it with robots that will displace millions of workers in their workplaces.

Better still, scientists can likewise design robots capable of governing; thus sparing the government and Congress of the United States that horrible, contradictory and confused labour.

No doubt they would do it better and more cheaply.

Fidel Castro Ruz

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