Seeing the Bigger Picture

Some recent articles ("Idaho dairy producer battles U.S. military," "Valley Milk in Iraq?," "Dairyman wants to send milk to Middle East," "Idaho Dairymen Fights with U.S. Military") on the local dairy industries connections to US militarism illustrates the complex interrelations and interconnections of various forms of privilege and oppression.

As a vegan and a peace activist it would be too easy to condemn the company, Gossner Foods, and the contractor, Steve Cann, as exploiters of nonhuman animals and aspiring war profiteers. As true as all that might be, it ignores how oppression is "an interlocking system that involves ideological control as well as domination and control of the social institutions and resources of the society, resulting in a condition of privilege for the agent group relative to the disenfranchisement and exploitation of the target group." Blaming ignores the interlocking system, and that's what really needs to be addressed.

The dairy industry dominates agricultural in the Cache Valley region. Gossner Foods is the nations largest supplier of Swiss cheese, and provides its Ultra-High Temperature milk to all the domestic military bases, and the military exports it to colonial outposts in Puerto Rico, Panama, Korea, and Honduras. The occupying forces in Afghanistan and Iraq receive condensed milk from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which means the "war on terror" cut Gossner's shipments to the military in half. If the military would purchase its product for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq it would increase the shipments to the military by as much as 500 percent.

While only scratching the surface there's a lot going on in this scenario. I doubt it can be addressed it in a piecemeal fashion. You can't ignore all the other issues by just focus on, say, the exploitation of the cows. There are multiple cycles of exploitation going on all at once.

Ideologically there's not only speciesism, but also capitalism, militarism, (neo)colonialism, patriotism, nationalism, white supremacy, and "common sense" views of the family, diet and nutrition, masculinity, agriculture, etc. And we can't address these ideological controls without also addressing social institutions that encourage and perpetuate them, like economic, educational, historical, state, legal, and military institutions.

If we thought of it as, say, just a capitalist problem then we'd need to ignore that Cann and Gossners could increase their capital by urging the government to bring the troops home. Cann has one son currently serving in the military, another son who served and returned with a broken back, and a third son who is considering enlisting. Obviously there is more than a desire to just make a profit going on here.

Re: Seeing the Bigger Picture

Actually, I am thrilled you are an activist and a vegan. I am overjoyed previous military campaigns have offered this opportunity for all of us. Please do not condemn the milkman for trying to make a living by selling his milk. As a milk drinker, there is a difference in milk taste depending on the cow's diet. Even if you do not partake, please do not restrict the choices of those who do. By the way, this is my brother and he is no more a war monger than the man in the moon. He is a father concerned about the long term success of his dairy and feeding his family. You have an income and feed yourself. No one disputes your right to do so. Please do not condemn others when they seek the same opportunities you have.

Re: Seeing the Bigger Picture

As a vegan, you have made a choice to be one. My nephews have made a choice to be in the military for one very simple reason: the G.I. bill and the ability it gives a young person to get a higher education. One is going to school to be a Physicians assistant, maybe he will treat you or your family. Thanks to the military and the training it has given him. My brother's chosen lifestyle and vocation should be of no concern of yours. I can find no reference as to him bashing the fact that you and others are vegan. That is your choice. Why do you have to push your beliefs on others? We do not tell you how to live your life, let us live ours. That is one of the freedoms given to us by the constitution and protected by the MILITARY of the United States. In closing I would like you to remember the right you have to the freedom of speech and the right to Life, Liberty, and the persuit of happiness. If you love these rights, thank a vet or someone in the armed forces that CHOSE to be there.