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

The Reversing Runaway Inequality Petition is Live!

For the past few weeks we’ve been testing the wording and delivery methods for the Reversing Runaway Inequality Petition, a program of policy ideas designed to reverse runaway inequality.

Now the test is done and we’ve gone live. The petition is going out first to the Runaway Inequality Education Network, and the hope is other groups will support our goals and distribute the petition through their networks. Our goal is to demonstrate that progressive ideas are in the mainstream of American political thought, and in the interests of the vast majority of American people.

The Petition is addressed to the American Political Establishment.

You can read the whole thing here, and sign and share if agree!

The People’s Summit: June 9-11 in Chicago

Les Leopold is speaking at the People’s Summit this weekend, at 1:30pm on Saturday June 10 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Here’s what the organizers say about the People’s Summit:

CALL FOR THE PEOPLE’S SUMMIT: BUILDING THE POLITICAL REVOLUTION

At a time of tremendous turmoil and progressive opportunity, we invite you to participate in a historic convening of organizations and individuals committed to social, racial and economic justice.  On June 9-11 2017, in Chicago, we seek to bring together activists committed to a different kind of agenda: a People’s Agenda that can enhance and expand issue campaigns and hold all elected officials accountable to popular demands for justice, equality and freedom. We envision this Summit as further deepening the relationship between participating organizations rooted in principled anti-corporate politics, development of community leaders, direct action not based on partisan identification, and strategic organizing to build power. The Summit itself will include plenary and workshop sessions devoted to key issues such as the Fight for 15, mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, voting rights and expanding democratic participation, a tax on Wall Street speculation to fund human needs and jobs, climate justice toward a sustainable economy, improved Medicare for All, the fight for free and debt-free higher education, secure retirement through expanding social security, ending HIV/AIDS, achieving Constitutional pay equity for women, and ending deportations and support for DREAMers, among others. We will take action in Chicago against the big money system of politics that expands the power of the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the people. We will also celebrate with music and a “festival of joyous rebellion.” We hope to see you in Chicago, June 9-11, at McCormick Place.

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China Finances Its Own Infrastructure Spending. We Can, Too.

A friend has published a piece pointing out the problems with public-private partnerships and infrastructure investment:

“In effect, the Chinese government decides what work it wants done, draws on its own national credit card, pays Chinese workers to do it, and repays the loans with the proceeds.The US government could do that too, without raising taxes, slashing services, cutting pensions, or privatizing industries.”
Ellen Brown