Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Devil Came Up to Vermont

by RON JACOBS

According to the tale called The Iliad, the Greek god of war, named Ares, was “The most hateful of all gods….” Indeed, his father Zeus commanded him: “Do not sit beside me and whine, you double-faced liar.” Zeus treated him like this because Ares reveled in bloodshed and his only attributes were those that are the worst in humankind. Unfortunately since, the days of Olympus, war has defined the human race as much, if not more, than any of its other, often more positive elements.

In one of his final speeches as president, retired general and US president Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people about the dangers of the growing national security state—an entity created during World War Two and enhanced ever since. “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex” he warned. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” Unfortunately, Eisenhower’s advice was disregarded. Instead, enemies were created, maintained and exaggerated. First, it was communism. Now, it is terrorism. Someday, it may be China. The amount of money spent creating and maintaining these enemies could have been spent negotiating a peaceful and prosperous future for the greatest number of humans, at home and overseas. Instead, the war industry commands more money than any other element of the US budget, with much of that going directly into the coffers of that very same complex President Eisenhower warned us against in 1961.

Because it commands so much money, there is no politician who has not felt its pull. Most, if not all, have succumbed to that pull and have, when asked, done its bidding. One of the most recent examples of this occurred here in Vermont, when the Pentagon announced its decision to base the multibillion dollar warplane known as the F-35 at Burlington’s airport. Not one single national politician representing Vermont expressed anything but support for this decision. Indeed, all three of these elected officials—Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, and Peter Welch–championed the basing since it was first suggested (if not before.) Official support never wavered despite a strong and popular citizen opposition to the Pentagon’s plan. Given that these politicians are nationally known, rightly or wrongly, for their left-of-center views, many Vermonters who voted for them remain surprised at their unbridled support for the basing of this death bomber in Vermont.

Such surprise is willfully naïve and historically ignorant. A friend of mine who grew up in Burlington, Vermont and participated in antiwar protests there in 1970 describes one moment that defines the true nature of Senator Leahy. It was May 1970, not long after the US invasion of Cambodia and the military actions on US campuses that resulted in the murders of four students in Kent, Ohio. My friend and several hundred other people were blockading the doors of the local Federal Building after a week of protests. Leahy, who was the US Attorney at the time, came down from his office and personally oversaw the arrests of the protesters who failed to follow instructions. This act was just one of many on his rise. It represented the compromise politicians make every day in trade for power. Leahy’s championing of the F-35 is that compromise multiplied hundredfold in terms of its negative effects for the people of Vermont, the United States and, potentially, the world. Bernie Sanders is the other senator supporting this plane basing.

It isn’t the first time Bernie has supported a war machine. Indeed, back when he was mayor of Burlington, he opposed the demands of protesters calling for the city of Burlington to close down the local General Dynamics plant. For those who don’t know, General Dynamics is the ultimate war profiteer. Beginning with its development and marketing of the Gatling machine gun back in the nineteenth century, this corporation (which consistently ranks in the top ten most profitable war industry corporations) only develops and manufactures weapons and weapons-related systems. It makes nothing with socially redeeming value. If Satan were to choose a corporation to run hell, General Dynamics would certainly be among the finalists. Death is what keeps its profit margin so high.

Like Dr. Faust in the tale by Goethe, who bargained his soul’s damnation for success on earth, the people of Vermont have made another deal with the devil. They have been told that by bringing more machinery of death to their state, they will ward off death from afar. Furthermore, they are also told that this massive weapon and its deafening roar is the sound of freedom, when in actuality that roar is closer to the sound of the fires of hell. The devil will come to Vermont in the shape of a fleet of warplanes and the promise of some kind of monetary payoff for certain merchants in the region. The reach of his war machine grows ever broader and ever deeper.
As for those politicians, who knows what their payoff is?

Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.  His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

 

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]