Global Class War: U.S. Army Seeks Machine Gun Rubber Bullets

2011 February 18
by Ando Arike

New crowd control weapon?

In the wake of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and with popular revolt rising around the world, the New Scientist reports that the U.S. Army is now seeking a contractor to design and manufacture machine-gun-ready rubber bullets for the MK19 Mod 3 Grenade Machine Gun, which has been exported by the U.S. to some thirty countries. At present, rubber bullets are fired from single-shot weapons, a slow and cumbersome process with limited effectiveness against crowds; a rapid-fire design for the MK19 would allow troops to fire up to six rounds per second, unleashing a veritable wall of rubber bullets against protesters.

The backstory, rarely discussed in the mainstream media, is that for twenty years — ever since the 1989 Beijing uprising and Eastern European revolutions — crowd control has been a major concern in the Pentagon and its think-tanks, spurring innumerable and increasingly exotic weapons programs. Even less discussed are the imminent catastrophes that are now driving social unrest — oil and water depletion, overpopulation, widespread unemployment, rising food prices — all against the backdrop of vast and growing inequalities of wealth. In short, Darwinian competition over increasingly scarce resources is pushing global elites to circle their wagons, hoping that the cavalry will arrive with some newfangled way to rout the Injuns.

The quest for new crowd control weapons first gained urgency after the military debacle of the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu, Somalia, when after sustaining 60% casualties in combat against ragtag urban militias and hostile civilians, the Pentagon realized that the world’s mega-cities were shaping up to be the battlegrounds of the future. A key study was the RAND corporation’s 1994 “The Urbanization of Insurgency,” which found that the growing concentration of poverty in Third World urban centers, a result of peasants being thrown off their land by globalizing agro-industry, was providing ripe conditions for insurgent movements:

Unlike the symbiotic industrialization-and-urbanization process that gradually transformed the West a century ago, urbanization in the developing world is occurring more rapidly…irrespective of industrial development, economic progress, or employment opportunity. Accordingly, rural immigrants are arriving in the developing world’s cities and finding that, rather than having escaped from the hunger, despair, and crushing poverty they fled, even worse conditions await them. Most cannot even afford the cheapest accommodations these cities have to offer; they live instead in the unplanned, haphazardly built slums and shantytowns that now ring the developing world’s urban centers.

As fast as cities in the developing world are growing, their slums and shantytowns are growing twice as fast. Lacking adequate protection from the elements as well as an urban infrastructure (sanitation facilities, transportation, and government services), the inhabitants of these communities form a large, expanding, and increasingly restive pool of idle, frequently uneducated, and unskilled young people trapped in their native lands and bereft of hope or employment. According to one recent study, the populations of 53 of 57  cities in the developing world live in conditions that would be intolerable in the industrialized world.

Fifteen years after RAND published this study, these “intolerable” conditions have only deteriorated; and despite some recent noise from the Obama Administration in “support” of the Middle Eastern protests, you can be sure that the rubber bullets will be shipping as soon as possible.

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