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Sunday, April 24, 2011

A few words on the state we're in with 3 wars/conflicts raging

This isn't going to be a perfect solution but in any regard here it goes:

We're tied up in Iraq and we're in a stupid stalemate in Afghanistan with no clear mission or exit strategy.  It's because of the ability of the executive to so easily with or without public support to wage these wars that there is a strong case to weaken and divide central control over our military. In the past 70 years our military has evolved from a tool that was meant to protect the American public from threats into an arm of corporate and private power.  It was so in the past but it's multiplied and instead of concealment it's become flagrant display of imperial prowess:

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

-Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler

The founding fathers, who I believe were right about certain things and wrong about others knew a long time ago what the consequences of a hawkish foreign policy and a standing army were.

“A standing army is one of the greatest mischief that can possibly happen”

-James Madison

“Keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics - that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe”

-James Madison

“Standing armies are inconsistent with [a people's] freedom and subversive of their quiet.”

-Thomas Jefferson

“The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.”

-Thomas Jefferson

“There shall be no standing army but in time of actual war.”

-Thomas Jefferson

“What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty.” (August 17, 1789).

-Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts

“As the greatest danger to liberty is from large standing armies, it is best to prevent them by an effectual provision for a good militia.” (1787 Federal Convention).

-James Madison

 However after the Second World War a permanent standing military force was beyond debate.  I love the documentary Why We Fight, in the first scene Eisenhower warns of the political/economic power of a permanent arms industry or also known as the Military Industrial Complex.  A sector of the economy that gets rich when we go to war.

We can dress the war in Iraq up as much as we want, but the war was about access to resources (oil of course) and nothing else.  If it had been about nuclear weapons/weapons of mass destruction we would have invaded North Korea instead.

But to sell the invasion of Iraq to the surprisingly skeptical American public in 2003 we had to make it a moral issue about freedom and democracy, about what an SOB Saddam Hussein was.  This is simple a laughable argument as we trade and engage with dictators who are SOB's all the time, the question is, are they "our" SOB?  Adams warned about waging wars based on moral causes...

 “[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benign' sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

—John Quincy Adams, US House, 7/4/1821

Ok, I guess the point is we're going to war based upon "national interests", okay but who really benefited from the war in Iraq?  Or yet who's interests are in mind when our military engages and/or topples regimes?  Well I have another pretty good quote:

"it is crucial that we be able to define precisely what is meant by this "national interest".  As we seek to answer it, we would do well to remind ourselves that 1 percent of the families in our country control 40 percent of the wealth, that the next 19 percent own another 40 percent of the wealth, and that those of us in the "bottom" 80 percent of our nation's families  are left with only 20 percent of the wealth.  We should be clear that those who shape U.S. foreign policy and domestic policies are those from the wealthiest 20 percent of the population - and what is in their interest is not necessarily what is in our interest"  -Professor Paul Le Blanc

So... With that being said, should we have a military that's capable of executing and engaging in warfare so easily on the behalf of what can no doubt be described as an obvious oligarchy?  Well first of all what's an oligarchy defined as?

Definition of OLIGARCHY

: government by the few
: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also : a group exercising such control
: an organization under oligarchic control 
Can you argue that the wealthiest people in our country benefit disproportionately from our economic structure?  I think you can. 

Who "paid" for the Iraq War?  Was it the wealthiest among us?  They got tax breaks.  Did they in whole send their sons and daughters to fight the war?  No, it was the poorest who sent their children went to be killed and maimed.  

Here's's estimates:  $1.1 trillion (as I write this).

I bring this stat up by the way because a dollar spent on creating a system that kills is a dollar that isn't spent on life
What did Eisenhower say (a Republican I love by the way!)
“Modern weapons take food from the hungry and shelter from the homeless: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953

Here's the current human cost:
From Wikileaks via The Guardian:  "Leaked Pentagon files obtained by the Guardian contain details of more than 100,000 people killed in Iraq following the US-led invasion, including more than 15,000 deaths that were previously unrecorded."

$660 Billion projected in VA costs in "2007".

Are you complacent in this sort of society?  Is this just?  Does your labor act to improve your life and lifestyle or someone else?  Are you of the 1% of the 80%?  Do these wars benefit you or 1% of the population?  Should this deficit be laid on the backs of 80% of the American people or on 1% of it?  Where do we go from here, do we keep a standing army that dominates the world and who sends the poor to maintain a global empire for the 1%?  Is there an argument for reverting to a militia system?

Surely we can't eliminate war entirely or violence.  However, we surely can eliminate  or minimize acts like the ones seen below, this Afghan child was 15 years old, he was unarmed when he was gunned down by American soldiers and his death certainly was not to my interest.


I had to throw this up, what a great quote:

"Chalmers Johnson suggests that the battery of military bases required to ensure U.S. access to energy and markets carries with it what he calls the 'sorrows of empire,' which will ultimately change the nature of the nation-state.  These 'sorrows' include a state of perpetual war that will lead to more violent attacks against U.S. citizens and to an increase in reliance by smaller states on weapons of mass destruction; a loss of democracy and constitutional rights to an increasingly imperial presidency; a 'shredded principle of truthfulness,' as propaganda and spin are used to glorify war; power and the military itself; and, finally, economic decline and neglect of education, health, and individual well-being as maintenance of empire requires the militarization of society in general.  For example, the 750 bases around the world requires the 'professionalization' of the armed forces, producing people who will fight because they are told to, because it is their job, regardless of the political goals of military operations.  In World War II, we needed propaganda to convince the armed forces that they were fighting against evil: Today it is enough to be simply ordered into war. As Johnson put it, 'With public support slackening, the military high command turned to inculcating martial values into the troops, making that the most vital goal of all military instruction, superseding even training in the use of weapons.  These values were to include loyalty, esprit de corps, tradition, male binding, discipline and action -- generally speaking, a John  Wayne view of the world.'"
 - Richard H. Robbins


  1. I'm working on the menu for my Firat Annual Feast of the Oligarchs. The main course, of course, will be Peasant Under Glass. It will be up sooner or later at the book.

  2. Not a bad analogy...

    This wasn't supposed to be published till I edited it a little, oops.