FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Taking the Profit Out of War

by PETER G. COHEN

We now have a huge war machine that dwarfs President Eisenhower’s warning about the undue influence of the military-industrial complex. In an Aug. 29, 2013 editorial for Common Dreams, Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network says, “We’ve become a killer nation. We have to have endless war, like a drunk needs a drink at the bar, in order for American workers to put food on the tables for their families. What does this say about the soul of our nation?”

Yes the “complex,” as we call the whole security business, has become so huge that it is now the central engine of our economy, absorbing more than half of all discretionary spending. At the same time, our nation is decaying from lack of maintenance and investment. Whether we look at the national infrastructure, the health of the people, the education of our children, the employment of our workers or other measures of well being, the United States is behind other developed nations.

Our people are discouraged. Parents no longer have confidence that their children will lead better lives. They see that we have done very little to slow violent climate change or to prepare for the increasing devastation of our homes and businesses, which have cost billions in property damage and thousands of lives in the last decade. We are no longer the forward-looking nation, investing in the future, that we were for most of our history.

This imbalance of national priorities is strongly influenced by the flood of money that Congress is lavishing on wars and military spending. With the mantra of “supporting our troops,” Congress often has given the Pentagon more than they asked for. Some of this money gets spent in the Congress person’s district. The large defense corporations have taken care to spread their work across most of the states. Corporate lobbyists make sure that funding committee chairmen receive the largest campaign contributions and military facilities in their districts.

The lobbyists for schools, roads and bridges are insignificant compared to the banking and defense lobbyists. Their contracts are not “cost plus.” The research and development of a bridge, for example, does not go on for decades like the costly F-35, which is designed to have the maneuverability of a hummingbird, if and when they finally get it right.

Being the world’s policeman and maintaining worldwide influence is an expensive business. We are now building new bases in Asia and Africa. They make it easier for international corporations to buy up resources – including cheap labor. We pay the price with our taxes, while the corporations often hold their profits overseas to avoid paying their share of those taxes. We are told that these bases, their troops and supplies protect our “interests.” Watch out for that one!

The Money System

A system is a dynamic, self-regulating network of interrelated elements. Perhaps our military system started with the need to defend our nation in the days before the power of nonviolent methods were known, but has now grown to be the self-regulating system of aggressive expansion and maintenance of worldwide domination. Of course, this is not publicly admitted. Each element, such as anti-missile systems on the Russian borders or the huge naval base now building on Jeju Island, S. Korea, 100 miles from Shanghai, is advanced as absolutely essential to our national security. They are not.

The truth is that they only seem necessary to the ever-more-costly effort to maintain the predatory capitalist advantage we had at the end of World War II, when the rest of the industrialized world was in ruins. This project cannot succeed in the long run. Nations such as Brazil, China, India and Russia are growing rapidly. They will not long endure the arrogant effort at their containment and our world dominance.

While this effort is doomed to failure and is exhausting our national resources, it is making some corporations exceedingly rich. They supply Congressional supporters of these efforts with abundant campaign contributions. The shockingly common story of General Dynamics contributing massively to key Congressional members just when a vote was taken on the Abrams tanks—tanks the Pentagon not only did not request but in fact had mothballed surplus Abrams tanks in the Mohave and planned to save $3 billion by not ordering more—is one investigated and reported case of corporate welfare and congressional corruption seated in the military-industrial-congressional complex. The corporate congressional contributions had their effect and your money was utterly wasted on more tanks and more war profits for corporate elites.

We are facing elections in the next few years. Can we make breaking the influence of money on national decisions our essential demand of every candidate? Can we insist that the Oath of Office, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, must be more important in our decision-making than corporate campaign contributions? The domination of money is ruining our nation. Will we, the people, fight for a decent future for the United States?

Peter G. Cohen, Santa Barbara, CA, is the author of www.nukefreeworld.com and other internet writing.

More articles by:
January 23, 2018
Carl Boggs
Doomsday Panic in Hawaii
Mark Ashwill
If I Were US Ambassador to Vietnam…
Jack Rasmus
US Government Shutdown: Democrats Blink…Again
Nick Pemberton
The Inherent Whiteness of “Our Revolution”
Leeann Hall
Trump’s Gift for the Unemployed: Kicking Them Off Health Care
Dean Baker
Lessons in Economics For the NYT’s Bret Stephens: Apple and Donald Trump’s Big Tax Cut
Mitchell Zimmerman
Law, Order and the Dreamers
Ken Hannaford-Ricardi
The Kids the World Forgot
Dave Lindorff
South Korea Slips Off the US Leash
Ali Mohsin
Extrajudicial Murder of Pashtun Exposes State Brutality in Pakistan
Jessicah Pierre
Oprah is No Savior
John Carroll Md
Keeping Haiti in Perspective
Amir Khafagy
Marching Into the Arms of the Democrats
January 22, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
It’s Time to Call Economic Sanctions What They Are: War Crimes
Jim Kavanagh
Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending and Modern Monetary Theory
Sheldon Richman
Trump Versus the World
Mark Schuller
One Year On, Reflecting and Refining Tactics to Take Our Country Back
Winslow Wheeler
Just What Earmark “Moratorium” are They Talking About?
W. T. Whitney
José Martí, Soul of the Cuban Revolution
Uri Avnery
May Your Home Be Destroyed          
Wim Laven
Year One Report Card: Donald Trump Failing
Jill Richardson
There Are No Shithole Countries
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
Are the Supremes About to Give Trump a Second Term?
Laura Finley
After #MeToo and #TimesUp
Howard Lisnoff
Impressions From the Women’s March
Andy Thayer
HuffPost: “We Really LOVED Your Contributions, Now FUCK OFF!”
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail