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The war business

Do you ever yearn for the good old days of the Cold War when the war
between “us and them” had become so choreographed, so predictable? Back
we knew all the moves: the superpowers kept world order with their
walls, curtains
and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The rules were simple, easily
understood even
by school kids doing nuclear drills: cross the line and get fried and
what’s left will
glow for 250,000 years.

And for the taxpayers, who paid the freight for all the Cold War toys
and boys, the
cost was constant, kind of like a car payment — about 18 cents of every
tax dollar
went to the Pentagon. Now with the Cold War over, we’re still making
that same
Pentagon payment and soon the ante’s getting kicked up. But just what is
Pentagon defending against these days? Well, there’s the war with Iraq –
– which
makes no sense at all unless it’s to keep our war machine running hot by
testing new
megabuck missiles and systems. A new war, declared last August by Bill
against terrorism, is about to annually cost billions of bucks as well.
Then there’s the
budding war in Kosovo, where members of our mercenary Army, Military
Resources Incorporated, CEOed by a former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, are
laying the
foundation for a costly military misadventure against Serbia which has
about as much
a chance of succeeding as our failed operations in Somalia and Haiti.

The Three Generals: General Dynamic, General Electric and General
Motors, and all
their weapon making cohorts, are thrilled, of course, by all these
costly sorties.
Witness how the prices of defense stocks have skyrocketed since the Cold
ended. And they’ll climb higher. Clinton’s just agreed to add another
$107 billion to
the Pentagon budget, which Republican Hawks already are complaining
isn’t enough.
Back when the Cold War ended, the weapon makers worried that the
people would switch off the tube and ask a few hard questions. Like why
is the
Pentagon still buying Cold War gear such as attack subs or spending a
trillion bucks
on new fighters designed to fight the defunct Sovs? Why are our forces
around the world in more than 150 countries? And the bottom-line
question: Why
are we-the-taxpayers still pumping all that dough into the Pentagon when
there’s no
serious external threat to the USA? In the 1930’s, a romping stomping
General asked similar questions. He even coined the label “War is a
Racket” in a book
bearing that name.

Smedley Butler wasn’t just a hero who’d been awarded two
Congressional Medals of
Honor but a man of unusual street smarts and rare moral courage. Butler
the war racket could only be stopped by taking the profit out of war. He

recommended that all defense workers — from the CEOs who make millions
of bucks a
year to the lowly defense plant janitors and all the bankers, generals
and admirals,
politicians and government officials — be paid “a total monthly income
not to exceed
that paid to the soldiers in the trenches.”

Butler also advocated that a vote be held to determine if a war
should be declared.
“A plebiscite not of all voters but merely of those who would be called
upon to do the
fighting and the dying.” He wanted only those who would risk their lives
to decide
whether the nation should go to war. Not the well-heeled industrialists
or the
professional politicians whose real allegiance is not to protecting our
warriors or our
citizens, but rather to their defense contractors and their ther pork.
Or, for that
matter, the switched-off citizens who can’t get enough of the Bill &
Monica Show.
Incidentally, anyone know who voted for all the Clinton Wars since 1992?
hasn’t. I haven’t. Have you?

The third leg of the general’s platform was that our military should
stay home. He
reckoned if it weren’t flexing its military muscle around the globe, a
lot of wars
wouldn’t happen. So, he concluded that our Army “should never leave the
limits of our nation.” Butler’s concepts should be revisited. No profit
from war and no
foreign entanglements are also in line with the thinking of our founding