Category Archives: War Profiteering
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul
-Bob Dylan “Masters of War”
Somewhere within that great morass of collective national ignorance are the great stories of our untaught and largely suppressed history and the real heroes who inhabit it. They are the real heroes whose sacrifice and efforts in building a great nation and a truly compassionate and progressive society are in direct conflict that those who have mounted a decades long drive to erase their efforts and to remake America into the cruel fool’s paradise of a militaristic, Social Darwinist, monopoly capitalist spoils system where the less fortunate are subordinated to be lesser humans, servants and cannon fodder for the never ending wars on which the engine of empire is fueled in the early days of this sordid new American century.
In our past lie the keys to our future but in the revisionist reworking perpetrated by the greatest propaganda machine that the world has ever known it will never be understood by the majority who take solace in tough talking cowboys and ‘plain spoken’ men who provide easy answers for an increasingly complex and dangerous world. History is always written by the victors rather than the vanquished and in a country where the victors have been corporatists, reactionary right-wingers and the military industrial complex it is no wonder that we are spoon fed distortions, oversimplifications and outright lies as history. The indoctrination into the warrior world of laissez-faire monopoly capitalism, the worship of the state and the acceptance of the grand destiny of God’s chosen empire begins with the constant onslaught of televised imagery, the war toys and the desensitization of violence and condoning of the exploitation of others from the earliest days of cognitive capability.
Television is the greatest tool for indoctrination and central programming that ever has been invented – bar none and to the corrupt oligarchy it is gospel. The tabula rasas of impressionable children have already been subjected to consumerism, class exploitation and the acceptance of a national mythology and the requisite violence by the time they even get to the classroom where the job will be completed by a system that no longer in any way encourages critical thinking and individualism – only acquiescence, obedience and conformity are desirable…those not adhering are then culled out and will face the lifelong stigmatism that has only two destinations, death or a place in the burgeoning network of privately owned, for profit prisons – another growth industry in America that nearly rivals that of the great war machine itself.
The blame for the dark cloud of willful ignorance upon the land over the true consequences of the waging of war lies not only with the purveyors of the immaculate Hollywood fantasies that transform industrialized slaughter into grand, glamorous adventured dripping with glory and valor but also with the media in its entirety (excluding the alternative media of course which lacks the firepower to compete with the corporate goliaths) that drums out the hypnotic cadence about the glorious potential that lies in the grand adventures that war brings along with that most precious of commodities that is American exceptionalism. Add a punditry composed of psychopathic hired guns who routinely decry pacifists and war critics as traitors while omitting the inconvenient truth that the vast majority of the luminaries of the right-wing attack machine have never worn a uniform in the service to the country.
The ongoing psyops campaign is relentless and has been far too successful in gene splicing Sinclair Lewis’ domestic fascism with a dystopian vision that not even Orwell himself could have imagined. Note this story citing a defense industry think tank that distorts the looting of the treasury and racking up of unpayable war debt like a plague upon the unborn by making the argument that the ongoing occupation of civil war ravaged Iraq as a “relative bargain”. I mean give me a fucking break, this is what happens when highly compensated ‘experts’, bean counters and paid public relations flacks are retained to use a shadowy, state run media apparatus to sow disinformation and outright lies.
The story that did not merit much in the way of real coverage from the media conglomerates, their boards packed with members of interlocking directorates who also serve the energy cabal and defense contractors is the scandalous news that Halliburton will soon be fleeing the USA to relocate it’s corporate headquarters to Dubai. When the potential for something even remotely resembling oversight on Dick Cheney’s former (and some may argue current) employer suddenly becomes possible with a Democratic Congress armed with subpoenas and questions on no-bid contracts, mismanagement, war profiteering and outright looting then HAL is outta here.
That is the way that it always goes with the blood barters in the defense industrial complex to whom the cynical jingoism and invocations of patriotism don’t mean jack shit when it comes to trafficking in human misery, death and pestilence. The blood barters only see the color of money and not red, white and blue like the miserable dupes who they always so easily exploit to send their young off to die in illegal wars fought for greed and the imperialism of a rapacious strain of militarist capitalism run amok. But hey, war is all about glory, John Wayne, apple pie and the shoveling of the big lie of spreading democracy as though it were so much manure.
And leave it to the media to play down or otherwise skew the coverage of anti-war protests and the anti-war movement in general by low balling crowd counts, giving equal time to dead ender, right-wing counter protests by giving representatives (often ditto head dopes whose bellicosity and twisted world views mimic those of Michael Savage and other fascist propagandists) space in stories for their statements even if they happen to be outnumbered 100-1 in the interest of being ‘fair and balanced’ and always finding the one burned out hippie stoner in the crowd who is festooned with peace signs and carrying a guitar.
As war protesters marched toward Arlington Memorial Bridge en route to the Pentagon yesterday, they were flanked by long lines of military veterans and others who stood in solidarity with U.S. troops and the Bush administration’s cause in Iraq. Many booed loudly as the protesters passed, turned their backs to them or yelled, “If you don’t like America, get out!”
Several thousand vets, some of whom came by bus from New Jersey, car caravans from California or flights from Seattle or Michigan, lined the route from the bridge and down 23rd Street, waving signs such as “War There Or War Here.” Their lines snaked around the corner and down several blocks of Constitution Avenue in what organizers called the largest gathering of pro-administration counter-demonstrators since the war began four years ago.
The vets turned both sides of Constitution into a bitter, charged gantlet for the war protesters. “Jihadists!” some vets screamed. “You’re brain-dead!” Others chanted, “Workers World traitors must hang!” — a reference to the Communist newspaper. Some broke into “The Star-Spangled Banner” as war protesters sought to hand out pamphlets.
“Bunch of hooligans in motorcycle jackets!” one war protester shot back.
The large turnout surprised even some counter-demonstrators. Polls show public opinion turning against the war in Iraq, and the November election was widely seen as a repudiation of the administration’s policy.
So well-coordinated has the pro-war media become in the aftermath of Vietnam and the placement of right-wing operatives in every news outlet in America to parrot think tank created, focus group tested messages that reduce the entire anti-war movement (even though it happens to be a veritable melting pot of every demographic segment of America) into the same cartoon figures and caricatures that have been used to deviously and often subconsciously manipulate mass opinion ever since the military industrial complex and the corrupt system upon which it depends upon was deal that very serious one two punch of the fall of Saigon and the outing of Richard M. Nixon as a malevolent criminal. Nixon alas was only a symptom of a virulent stain of neo-fascism that while having long existed in this country has grown increasingly powerful in an inverse relationship to the decreasing attention spans and chronic intellectual shortcomings of the pubic at large. In reference to the media I love this line from Charley Reese (a small part of a larger overall condemnation of power from his latest column that I am stealing a portion of for my own purposes) that: … just remember that money buys whores, and whores service their customers.
Such is the culture of the Bushreich, where the sanitized, misleading and dishonest portrayal of American virtues and our divine moral superiority are exalted and those heroes from the past who spoke out have been effectively lost in a time warp. There is one great voice that does not turn up in textbooks and his message was a condemnation of the callousness of the blood barters and his voice was one that spoke from experience. He is the highly decorated (two medals of honor) former USMC General Smedley Darlington Butler.
General Butler was one of the earliest critics of American intervention and the plundering of foreign countries for the benefit of Wall Street looters who were all too glad to trade lives for profit. Butler wrote the scathing War Is A Racket that was a no-holds barred indictment of the early military-industrial complex. Butler told it like it was, not a convenient thing for the revisionist historians who write the textbooks to indoctrinate the good little Americans in the religion of the always great, always righteous and blessed land of plenty.
“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.”
“During those years, I had as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best that he could do was operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
Wall Street has always had a vested interest in dabbling in war and death, despite all of the rah- rah red meat exhortations of patriotism or more appropriately nationalism that serve to keep the masses energized those who operate behind the scenes only real loyalty is to wealth and in maintaining the interests of the elite – those who will never lose sons or daughters in any of the hellish wars that are waged primarily for their benefit. A connection that the overwhelming majority of the rest of the peasants will never be able to make due to an incessant barrage of propaganda and corporate brainwashing via the electronic crackpipe to keep the rabble in line.
I recently had an opportunity to catch Eugene Jarecki’s movie Why We Fight that offers a very serious and dare I say bi-partisan look into the corruption of the military industrial complex and the dangers that it poses to American values. President Eisenhower warned of this in his farewell address over four decades ago but it went unheeded and the ongoing wars, military actions, occupations, weapons sales to other countries that have become a constant of American life ever since are a growing blight on our nation’s soul.
The best thing about Why We Fight is that it is immune to the sort of Rovian swift boating that followed in the aftermath of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 that had the weak kneed sissies on the DLC controlled ‘opposition party’ running for cover. The film features a cross section of neocon ideologues, politos and serious analysts including John McCain, Chalmers Johnson, Gore Vidal, Gwynne Dyer, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Karen Kwiatkowski among others and is inclusive to viewpoints from both sides of the ideological spectrum. This movie is not to be taken lightly and try as they may to discredit it the Republican slime machine will not be able to make hay so easily as it was when turning Moore into a caricature (a puppet terrorist in the ultra-sardonic and overly scatological Team America: World Police) or for the Democrats to find a convenient scapegoat for their fecklessness and inability to win elections. This is a powerful, truthful and enduring film that asks serious questions that the used car salesmen and charlatans that are our ‘elected’ representatives are not going to want to answer.
Why We Fight zeroes in on the bastard relationship between Dick Cheney and Halliburton – we essentially have a government contractor as Vice President, in the movie he is referred to as a “rolodex man” Outsourcing of military duties such as cooking, cleaning etc are outsourced for profit to private contractors like Halliburton. This is one of the fundamental ways in which the military had changed under the leadership of corrupt men like Cheney. When I did my time about a quarter of a century ago we had our own enlisted men performing the often dehumanizing duties like cleaning the ‘shitters’, cooking and working in support positions such as personnel and logistics.
This use of highly paid ‘contractors’ is a criminal scam designed to bilk the taxpayers into funneling more money to the parasitical firms in Cheney’s rolodex. Now all of these functions are spun off to contractors who then bilk the American taxpayers for billions in order to perform the same functions that our servicemen and women used to do. Talk about a royal scam, this is it. The disturbing rise of private mercenaries is also quite troubling, especially at a time when our own military is being destroyed and I’m sure that I’m not the only one in America questioning the true intent of the Cheney-neocons and unaccountable private armies for hire as provided by firms like Blackwater but that is a story for another time.
The movie is even more important today as the neocon madness is about to be escalated with an impending attack on Iran that is inevitable given the goading by Israeli hard-liners meddling with the U.S. political appartus. This great column by Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo along with it’s links is well worth your time in reading if only to see the extent of the danger of having a foreign government (and an extremist one at that) in the driver’s seat of the Rapture bus. Absent some very serious and immediate action by Congress to begin to reign in the monsters that have run amok then we are all in for some seriously troubling times with wars without end, continuing domestic unrest as the population is divided and pitted against one another as a diversion and the dead bodies on America’s tab piling as fast as the blood barter’s ill gotten gains. As Plato once famously stated: “Only the dead have seen the end of the war” and you can bet the house that there will be plenty of them as long as their deaths can be turned into another revenue stream.
Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost it’s way
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
– The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter
Vonnegut of course was present at Dresden on the night that allied bombers laid waste to the ‘Florence of the Elbe’, a historic city as well as a non-military target with little or no air defense system that was packed with refugees and prisoners and was targeted by bombers that incinerated over one hundred thousand civilians. Vonnegut spoke of seeing the boiled bodies of schoolgirls floating in a water tower through his character Billy Pilgrim and also of being forced to dig through the wreckage in the aftermath to find “corpse mines” and described the odor of the bodies:
“They didn’t smell bad at first…but then the bodies rotted and liquefied, and the stink was like roses and mustard gas”He also spoke of a character, another soldier who died of the dry heaves from having to go down into a corpse mine and being overcome by the stench:
“He tore himself to pieces, throwing up and throwing up”
Dresden doesn’t get much mention when it comes to our nation’s war history, neither does the decimation of the Japanese homeland by bombing of civilian areas nor the bombing of Viet Nam nor the brown skinned dead in any other foreign imperialist adventure undertaken by the politicians and their wealthy backers who cash in on the destroyed lives and flesh of those who become victims so that they may live opulent lives of carefree exploitation. I do want to make the statement that in doing so I am differentiating between ‘combatants’ and what is deemed to be acceptable ‘collateral damage’ to those dropping their bombs or launching their shells and missiles from far away lest they actually have to bear witness to the devastation. ‘Trout’s’ Gutless Wonder is a perfect metaphor for the apathetic and cruel philistines who allow for the murder of innocents to take place in their name as long as it doesn’t intrude upon their pathetic and selfish little lives.
I want to at this time take an opportunity to recognize it here for the sake of the memory of the dead and perhaps the hope of the living that we can one day finally recognize war for the profitable, industrialized slaughter that it is by listing a few accounts:
“The firestorm is incredible, there are calls for help and screams from somewhere but all around is one single inferno. To my left I suddenly see a woman. I can see her to this day and shall never forget it. She carries a bundle in her arms. It is a baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire. Suddenly, I saw people again, right in front of me. They scream and gesticulate with their hands, and then – to my utter horror and amazement – I see how one after the other they simply seem to let themselves drop to the ground. (Today I know that these unfortunate people were the victims of lack of oxygen). They fainted and then burnt to cinders.” (Margaret Freyer: Dresden Resident)
“The elephants gave spine-chilling screams. The baby cow elephant was lying in the narrow barrier-moat on her back, her legs up in the sky. She had suffered severe stomach injuries and could not move. A 90 cwt. cow elephant had been flung clear across the barrier moat and the fence by some terrific blast wave, and stood there trembling. I had no choice but to leave these animals to their fate. I had known for one hour now that the most difficult task could ever bring was facing me. “Lehmann, we must get to the carnivores,” I called. We did what we had to do, but it broke my heart.” (Otto Sailer-Jackson: Dresden Zookeeper)
“We did not recognize our street any more. Fire, only fire wherever we looked. Our 4th floor did not exist anymore. The broken remains of our house were burning. On the streets there were burning vehicles and carts with refugees, people, horses, all of them screaming and shouting in fear of death. I saw hurt women, children, old people searching a way through ruins and flames. We fled into another cellar overcrowded with injured and distraught men women and children shouting, crying and praying. No light except some electric torches. And then suddenly the second raid began. This shelter was hit too, and so we fled through cellar after cellar. Many, so many, desperate people came in from the streets. lt is not possible to describe! Explosion after explosion. It was beyond belief, worse than the blackest nightmare. So many people were horribly burnt and injured. lt became more and more difficult to breathe. lt was dark and all of us tried to leave this cellar with inconceivable panic. Dead and dying people were trampled upon, luggage was left or snatched up out of our hands by rescuers. The basket with our twins covered with wet cloths was snatched up out of my mothers hands and we were pushed upstairs by the people behind us. We saw the burning street, the falling ruins and the terrible firestorm. My mother covered us with wet blankets and coats she found in a water tub”. (Lothar Metzger: Dresden Resident)
Among other things Vonnegut later wrote:
In a precursor to modern corporate number crunching the bombing run efficiency was maximized to the point where stripped B-29s were sent in flying so low that they literally reeked of burning flesh, a good and short although militaristic account on LeMay and the bombing has been written by Victor Davis Hanson and entitled The Right Man, this piece is featured in the World War II compilation called No End Save Victory, a pretty good book of essays that you could likely pick up cheap online. The ruthless efficiency of the incendiary bombings even had LeMay himself to comment that “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal”.
The outrage over the images was made all the more conspicuous by it’s absence.
I am not merely being callous over the violent fate of the ‘contractors’ , I just have far more sympathy for the innocent victims. Victims such as the Hassan family whose seventeen members were packed into a 1974 Land Rover in the early days of the invasion and were driving toward their dream of democracy and freedom from the evil savagery of Saddam. Instead of democracy, this family (the grandfather was dressed in his finest garment, a pin striped suit to look American for the celebratory occasion of their deliverance) was slaughtered in an unimaginably horrific manner by a nervous American soldier at a checkpoint who panicked and unloaded a barrage of military ordnance into the oncoming vehicle. Eleven members of the family were destroyed, not just killed but destroyed…as a veteran you can appreciate the power of military weaponry. Lamea, the pregnant wife of Bakhat Hassan survived the attack that turned the vehicle into an abattoir in which she described as follows:
The equilibrium of international relations has not only been upset by these fools and charlatans but sent off spinning into the depths of some bizarre parallel universe in which up is down, wrong is right, truth is ignorance and war is peace. We have begun the journey down the rabbit hole, let us hope that the rabbit hole does not eventually end up being a mass grave. We are now on the precipice of the new crusades, a war of civilizations and religions perpetuated by those both ignorant of history as well as world culture.
We are now playing for keeps.