The US Geological Survey recorded a minor earthquake this morning with its epicenter near Wasilla, Alaska, the probable result of Sarah Palin opening her mail box to find the latest issue of CounterPunch magazine we sent her. A few moments later she Instagrammed this startling comment…
The lunatic Right certainly has plenty of problems. We’ve made it our business to not only expose these absurdities, but to challenge them directly. With another election cycle gaining steam, more rhetoric and vitriol will be directed at progressive issues. More hatred will be spewed at minorities, women, gays and the poor. There will be calls for more fracking and war. We won’t back down like the Democrats. We’ll continue to publish fact-based critiques and investigative reports on the shenanigans and evil of the Radical Right. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
War is a Racket
"Why don’t these damned oil companies fly their own flags on their personal property-maybe a flag with a gas pump on it."
Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler (1937)
On August 26, 2003, CBS.com wrote of a "grim milestone" being reached in post-war (sic) Iraq: "A soldier’s death on Tuesday means more troops have died in Iraq since President (sic) Bush declared major combat over on May 1 than during the first phase of the war."
That same day, I received an advance review copy from Feral House of "War is a Racket" by Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler. I’ll have more to say on that confluence in a moment. For now, let us ruminate upon the "grim milestone" above.
More soldiers have died since Bush staged his aircraft carrier photo op than died during the so-called war itself. What this demonstrates is that the anti-war protestors were right. Iraqis did not welcome Americans with open arms. The war did provoke more anti-Western terror. Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were never the issue and might not even exist. The U.S. military is stuck in the proverbial quagmire. Bush-friendly corporations are getting richer on taxpayer-funded contracts. War is a racket for sure.
But, as Marine Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler wrote in the 1930s, war has been a racket for a long, long time (go back and check the date on his opening quote). Writing mostly about World War I in "War is a Racket," Butler explains that war is "possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, sure the most vicious" racket of all. "It is the only [racket] in which profits are reckoned in dollars and losses in lives," he declares.
Butler’s blunt analysis is aimed directly at corporate power. Summing up his career, he says: "I spent 33 years…being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism…I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of a half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street."
What we might wish to remember, however, is that anti-war protest has also been around a long, long time. During the First World War, noted Socialist Eugene V. Debs, after visiting three fellow Socialists in a prison in June 1918, spoke out across the street from the jail for two hours. He was arrested and found guilty under the Espionage Act. Before sentencing, Debs famously told the judge: "Your honor, years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
During the "good war," a time of absolute unity we’re told, there were 43,000 conscientious objectors and a total of 350,000 cases of draft evasion.
Protest against the U.S. invasion of South Vietnam began not during the Kennedy administration but rather in 1945 when merchant marines refused to transport French soldiers back into Southeast Asia to resume their colonial repression.
Consider this: In America, there are far more anti-war veterans than war veterans. (Perhaps we need a co-opting of Veteran’s Day.)
So, Bush’s war followed a long tradition of military racketeering and, as before, millions of anti-war activists were right on many counts. WE were right on many counts. Fine…but there’s no time to gloat or consult the scorecard. WE must be certain to:
Do our part to keep this spirit of dissent alive every single day…in all we do
Not accept Dubya and the Republicans as the only villains…both corporate parties are guilty
The 2004 election provides us with a high-profile opportunity to send a message that the lesser of two evils (if such a creature even exists in the American two-party (sic) system) is not enough. As Eugene Debs said: "I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want, and get it."
MICKEY Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet and an editor at Wide Angle. He can be reached at: email@example.com.