The Danger of Permanent War

Our nation now supports two overlapping military-industrial complexes. There’s the traditional one that worried President Dwight Eisenhower (large corporations and their profitable production of planes, ships, missiles, nuclear weapons, etc.). And now we have private contractors who make money by providing field services and security — functions formerly provided by the armed services.

The large private manufacturers of U.S. military hardware don’t need nonstop war to maintain their profits, since there’s always a reason, even in peacetime, to upgrade weapons technologies. But the private army of contractors must have wars, occupations and incursions to grow and survive.

It certainly seems that the private contractors are getting their profit needs met. We have been at war since shortly after 9/11. They’ve been sent to Iraq, and Afghanistan, and now ISIS is sending us back into Iraq and perhaps into Syria as well. And then there’s Yemen, and Ukraine, which may require more military support and even troops. Almost every day you can hear political pundits and politicians calling for “boots on the ground” somewhere around the world, all in the name of “winning” the endless “War on Terror.”

Of course no one has any idea what “winning” looks like. It’s hard to see how a war against small, violent bands of true believers can end. But it’s easy to see how private contractors can profit mightily from unending conflict.

What and who is responsible for this permanent war? The idea probably didn’t originate with the private contractors. It probably came from our national security state — groups inside and outside government including the National Security Agency (which spies on communications), the CIA, the Defense Department, the State Department and the many think tanks and university centers that focus on foreign policy.

Although these agencies and their personnel have many disagreements, they did coalesce with very little dissent around the Bush administration’s plan to turn 9/11 into the Iraq War. Collectively they wrongly claimed that 1) Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; and 2) Iraq supported Al-Qaeda and therefore was involved in the 9/11 attacks. In this, the leaders of the national security state blatantly lied to the American people and led us to wars in the Middle East that have proceeded for well over a decade.

The privatization of the military is part of this sleight of hand. Privatization allows our hawkish political and military leaders to hide how costly these wars really are. And if contractors are doing the fighting, we don’t need a draft, which fueled mass upheaval during the Vietnam War.

If we want to halt runaway inequality, we need to capture the huge percentage of the U.S. budget now devoted to war and redirect it to address useful goals. This won’t be easy, of course, since so many businesses are financially invested in our privatized war without end.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

—Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” April 16, 1953

Fan Mail to a Runaway Inequality Trainer

The Communications Workers of America held a Runaway Inequality training session recently, and heard back from one trainee:

Hi Joe,

THANKS for such eye opening info!  It explains so much…
Some Democratic Senators like Chris Holleran addressed the very situation (in coded language like “uneven distribution of gains” referring to the spoils of the economy going to the haves, not the have nots) in last week’s Banking, Housing & Urban Development Hearing on Monetary Policy w/Janet Yellin. I can tell you more about that….
I’m definitely interested in taking the follow up class.
I hope these trainings will be given far & wide. I think the White Plains Greenburgh NAACP (Pres. Lena Anderson is interested in holding one and also the Unitarian congregation in White Plains (Rev. Meredith Garmon). The person to get to is Rev. Troy DeCohen – he is the President of the Westchester Interfaith Clergy Assn and also the head of a NYS black clergy organization – I bet he’d be interested in it too.
btw, do you have or could you put together a list of our think tanks?
Stay strong,
We’ll be posting information about upcoming training sessions here on the News page going forward.

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The Resistance Calendar

Many people have asked us where to find a listing of protest actions against Trump and inequality in a central location. So many asked we considered building out a calendar on our own. That job was daunting, which is why we were glad to discover (thank you Michael Moore!) The Resistance Calendar. It is a clearinghouse for information about marches and demonstrations provided by organizers.

If you’re looking for a collective action in your area, you may find it here.

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