Monday, December 26, 2011

Vietnam to Iraq: US tastes defeat again

The institution of war as practiced by the US was once a conflict management method used for two things. One, gain and defend sovereignty, which is to say freedom from foreign rule. Two, gain and defend land and natural resources that belonged to other people, which is to say become the foreign rulers.
Examples of the first sort of war might include the Revolutionary War and World War II.

Examples of the second sort of war include invading and seizing the sovereign nations of Native Americans, or overthrowing other nations and installing dictators (e.g. most Central American countries at least once, Hawaii, the Philippines).

But the new sort of war is what we saw in Iraq and largely in Vietnam. It is a function of the Doritos paradigm, that is, consume all you want, "We'll make more." Military profiteers from the private sector profit from a war win or a war loss. What hurts them is peace. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney profited quite personally quite massively from the entire Iraq debacle, beginning to end, as did their entire owner class of war profiteers supplying the military with ordnance, body armor, vehicles, weapons, privately contracted transport, and, no doubt, Doritos. The war system is poor for the taxpayer, since military spending creates far fewer jobs per $billion spent than other sectors. The war system is poor for the military members who bet their lives that they can survive long enough to enjoy the life they joined to enhance and who then lose that bet by suffering lifelong wounds to body, mind and spirit--or who are among those who die directly in the war.

So why do the elite owners get us into war instead of profiting from peaceful enterprise? Because war profits are obscenely high, corruption is massive, and the outright theft of taxpayer money is never easier and never so massive. "National security" is the magic phrase that occludes the view so this can all transpire and the taxpayer will either never know or, if there is a Julian Assange out there exposing the corruption, it can be treated as an aberration rather than a system feature. Too bad about Halliburton overcharging for gasoline in Iraq starting immediately in 2003, but let's keep using their contracting services. "Money in a gunnysack" diplomacy buys off local "leaders" who then feed the US media, bravely embedded behind bristling guns, all sorts of GIGO opinions and assurances. Garbage In, Garbage Out is the proud motto of the embed, or at least it should be.

At least we have Harper's Magazine and other challenger media who offer an unembedded POV and let us know that, oh, by the way, that Big Deal Official End of the War Ceremony in Bagdhad was a made-for-TV farce:
At a 45-minute ceremony in a fortified compound at Baghdad International Airport, U.S. military officials declared the end of the Iraq war. Iraq’s president and prime minister did not attend, and local reporters were not invited.
So our new sort of war is just Extreme Profiteering, even if we flee Vietnam with our tails between our legs or exit Iraq with their country and ours in shambles. There's a flag-waving pride in that, I'm sure, for the owners of the largest military contractors. For the rest of us, we pay for it and suffer, but our suffering is nothing alongside what the people suffer in the countries where we go to 'liberate' them.

War crime is redundant. Serving the country is something nonviolent peace, justice and environmental activists do. Serving the corporate war profiteers is the job of the military.

Can 2012 be the year we finally change that equation?

1 comment:

Terri said...

I love that last paragraph. I'll be posting this entry to fb with that in the status. I think the Island air must be good for writing - but we miss you back in the soggy NW.