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Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Only Way to Stop War Is to Make It Unprofitable

[via ThinkProgress] This morning on CBS’s Face the Nation, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) strongly advocated a military strike against Iran: “I think we have to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.”

Bob Schieffer interrupted to get this clarification: “Let’s just stop right there. Because I think you probably made some news here, Senator Lieberman. You’re saying that if the Iranians don’t let up, that the United States should take military action?”

Lieberman's response: “I am.”

ThinkProgress continues with this utterly chilling (although not exactly unexpected) report from the Bunker: "Vice President Cheney… reportedly believes the diplomatic track with Iran is pointless, and is looking for ways to persuade Bush to confront Iran militarily.” Steve Clemons of the Washington Note wrote recently that “Cheney is planning to deploy an ‘end run strategy’ around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument” and is meeting with Iran war advocates at the American Enterprise Institute to piece together a coalition."

It doesn't matter how insane, how catastrophic, how overwhelmingly opposed by the people to whom they are in principle beholden, how deeply immoral, how literally criminal, how pointless, how obscenely wasteful all this is.

Those of us who oppose war as always only a defeat, those of us who know war to be a defeat of civilization even for those who presumably "prevail" in these bloodyminded contests, those of us who know war to be a brutal and, for everybody involved, on all sides, brutalizing indulgence in conceit, in wanton destructiveness, in sickening slaughter, I think we are simply too little capable of entering into the heads of those who eat war without end and draw some sick sustenance from it.

We are too little capable of grasping that there are some people who do not lose in war, by their lights. There are Americans for whom even Vietnam was not the loss that it was for America at large. Vietnam made some Americans filthy rich. And that matters enormously.

It is true that Iraq is in a significant sense "about oil," and this is, surely, bad enough. But it is crucial to remember that even without the oil Iraq has been a vast chaotic field in which billions have been looted and stolen, opportunistically as well as systematically, while it has been as well an epic engine of "legitimate" war profiteering, an inducement to hyperbolic corporate-militarist money-grabbing for half a decade.

There are winners in these wars and these winners are the worst people in the world.

These are the Evil Doers you don't hear about. These are people who don't care about people at all, they care only about profits. This is one of the truisms that happens also to be true, and it is crucial that we learn the lesson of it.

War is surely the greatest abomination set loose upon the world and I am a citizen of the country that is the monstrous face of War.

War, as Major General Smedley Butler put the point so eloquently in 1935, is a Racket. It is driven by a lust for filthy lucre by filthy war-criminals. There is no argument, no protest, no prick of conscience, no appeal to character nor to sympathy nor to sense, no vision of a different and better way that will constrain the lust for war's easy bloody money.

Literally the only way to stop war is to make it unprofitable.

Any commercial enterprise that devotes its energies to the needs of our Nation's proper defense should make only enough to repay its costs and then modestly and fairly to compensate its employees (and this modesty should conspicuously include those at the "top"). Military industries should be inspired to their work by their sense of the need to contribute to the just defense of democracy against palpable threat rather than by their taste for easy money stealthed under cover of "defense" in its present form as an elaborate impalpable abstraction.

After the nightmare of Vietnam, America ended the draft and shifted to a voluntary defensive force, in principle to provide a check on tyrannical militarist ambitions, to help ensure that only truly urgent truly just causes would attract volunteers to the dangers and demands of the armed forces. So, too, in the midst of our current distress we should make war production unprofitable and uncompetitive to provide the same check, to help ensure that industry sacrifices rather than succeeds when it turns its incomparable energies to death-dealing.

Of course, even setting aside the ominous question of the recent rise of mercenary armies helmed by religious and market fundamentalist ideologues with no love of our democratic freedoms, our voluntary armed forces are too much a slick sad sham, since permanent poverty creates conditions that direct by design great numbers of criminally neglected, vulnerable young people into harm's way as their only chance for a better future in contemporary America. This obscenity is abetted by the very corporate-militarist system that profits from the unending bloodletting in the first place.

The concentration of wealth at the very sites that supply the War Machine with its destructive tools and own the media outlets that whomp up the War Machine's hysterical calls for violence over dialogue, likewise drains the living world of energy and possibility, maintaining the barren hopeless moonscape of poverty that supplies the War Machine with the hands to hold its bloody tools, the ears to hear the call to kill to fill the pockets of the rich.

Only when the law comes properly to regard every single dollar's profit from warmaking a filthy, bloody, criminal dollar stolen from America's peaceful future and general welfare, only then will war become the last resort lying politicians claim it to be as now they interminably beat the drum for wars without end as they greedily contemplate profits without end.

1 comment:

Jonathan Pfeiffer said...

Your painfully insightful commentary raises (as your sentences so often do) issues I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.