One hundred years ago analysts were claiming that the way to international peace was through more trade, more business, greater commerce and that obviously the world would always choose peace over the destruction of war. Whoops. That theory was put into play and the next occurrences included a couple of World Wars. Hmmm... Perhaps there are other, complicating factors.This is another way in which pacifism attempts to become more realistic, by understanding and confronting the power of the vested interests that benefit from militarization and war.--David Cortright (2008, p. 338)
Walter Bresette (pictured with Sandy Lyon), Ron Kovic and Brian Willson (pictured together, Kovic on the left), and the signing of the Declaration of Independence ("...But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government..."). All three of the men whose birthdays I mention were in the US armed forces in the 1960s and all three became powerful activists in opposition to the use of those forces for imperial gain or any other unilateral invasion of other peoples' homelands and sovereign soil. These are the only sorts of veterans I honor today or any day.
What is national 'defense' about nowadays? Pure profit and power. The military creates the fewest jobs per $billion spent and it should hardly be surprising that, in these tough times, military spending is astronomical, thus unemployment remains far too high.
Who benefits from high unemployment? The military recruiters certainly (sign up and you're employed with housing, health care and clothing), the owner class and, naturally in this election season, Mitt Romney. The Onion spoofs this but the truth is clear from how the Republicans in the House and Senate have obstructed every initiative proffered that would create jobs.
Simply, fixing the economy is bad for Republican power-seekers, and when they are back in power they fix the economy to shut out the laboring classes and favor themselves, busting unions and deregulating how much corporations are allowed to abuse the Earth and all classes except their own.
So we ask ourselves, who benefits and who dies or loses limbs or is paralyzed? Who profits and who is penniless? Who hopes for bad economic news and sees it as a personal advantage? Or if we don't ask ourselves these questions and more, they get to keep on doing it to us. Land of the free or land of the pathetically used and abused? That choice is ours.
Cortright, David (2008). Peace: A history of movements and ideas. New York: Cambridge University Press.