The Security Fallacy and the War Profiteers
Look at Iraq. You have a nation that is completely occupied with over 140,000 troops. You have a country where there is no Bill of Rights. You have a country which is basically under military rule 24 hours a day. Yet still, violence is rampant. In fact, the U.S. death toll in Iraq has surpassed the number of American soldiers killed during the first three years of the Vietnam War. And this doesn't even account for the thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed as "collateral damage".
The inescapable truth is that we are vulnerable to any group who has the will to attack us. Our borders are vast. Our nation's enemies are growing, in spite of the four years of "War on Terrorism." In truth, its a war that cannot ever end. After all, the day we claim victory in the war on terror is the day we leave ourselves vulnerable to attack. Thus, our leaders have chosen to commit us to what is, in essence, a war that cannot end-- a war that cannot truly ever be won.
So what can be done?
As Noam Chomsky says, "There is one simple way for the United States to decrease very significantly the amount of terror in the world, and that is to just stop supporting and participating in it." You see, the prevailing belief is that if somebody carries out terror against us or against our allies, it's considered "terror". However, if we carry out terror or our allies do, maybe even much worse terror, against someone else, it's not considered terror, it's counterterror or it's a just war. Not only is this just a political game of semantics, but its a losing game altogether.
Ask yourselves, why aren't nations like Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ghana, Switzerland, or for example, the Czech Republic being threatened by Middle Eastern fighters? Is it perhaps because none of these nations are supporting repressive regimes? Is it because, perhaps, none of these nations are getting their noses in the middle of other nation's conflicts?
Would we be the target for terrorists if we simply minded our own business and stopped trying to police the entire globe? Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon "currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories."
The truth is, our economy has become addicted to war. In 2005, we will spend $401.7 billion dollars in discretionary defense spending. If you add up the rest of the world's defense budgets it is almost equal to what the United States spends alone! And still, we are told that we are not safe? Why? Perhaps its not a matter of how much security, but rather a matter of learning how to stop stepping in dog shit.
According to UCSD Emeritus Professor of International Relations Chalmers
Johnson, this vast military empire constitutes proof that the "Unites States
prefers to deal with other nations through the use or the threat of force rather than through negotiations, commerce, or cultural interaction." Dr. Johnson correctly concludes that American power has shifted from the people to the Pentagon with such dramatic finality that "a revolution would be required to bring the Pentagon back under democratic control."
Consider the fact that for the last twelve years, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush have been engaging in war-profiteering through the Carlyle Group ("CG"). CG is a consortium of wealthy conservatives who operate internationally as a merchant banking firm. CG is also a major player in the defense and telecommunications industries. CG has been averaging a whopping 34% return for its investors over the past 15 years, and its current estimated worth is $18 billion. Largely through war-profiteering, CG's worth soared from $12 billion to $18 billion between 2000 and 2005.
So who's involved in the Carlyle Group? Among many others: former President George H.W. Bush (CG's adviser from 1993 to October 2003, and current investor); Bush I Secretary of State James Baker (CG's $180 million partner); General Colin Powell before he was Bush II's SOS; Reagan Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci (CG's chairman); Bush I National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft; former conservative British Prime Minister John Major (head of CG's European operations); and the former right-wing presidents of the Philippines and South Korea.
In the typical revolving-door style that has made postmodern Washington an ethics-free zone, the Carlyle Group is managed and staffed by former Republican employees of the CIA, the State Department, and the DOD. The Saudi royal family also is - and the Bin Laden family recently was - a major investor in CG. Additionally, many prominent international bankers are CG investors.
Our president stands to inherit a multimillion dollar portion of whatever his father reaps through his consultations with, and investments in, CG. That might explain why our patriotic leader was so adamant both that his illegal elective war against Iraq must commence in March 2003, and that the estate tax must be repealed (which his party did in April 2005). Now when George Sr. dies, Junior can receive 100% of that blood-soaked windfall inheritance.
Also, consider Bechtel and Halliburton. Bechtel is a gargantuan multinational construction firm. The US-based Bechtel's war-profiteering activities are so prodigious that they're the stuff of legends. Knowledgeable defense experts have characterized Bechtel as "more powerful than the US Army." After 9/11, George Schultz, the Bechtel CEO and former Secretary of State, lobbied vigorously for the invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration rewarded Schultz by granting Bechtel exclusive no-bid, gold-plated contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, then reducing Iraq's infrastructure to rubble during its "shock and awe" blitzkrieg.
These Iraq War contracts enabled Bechtel to reap record profits of $17 billion in 2003, and $17.4 billion in 2004. The firm was founded by the San Francisco-based Bechtel family, who are old friends with the Saudi-based Bin Laden family. These two families have worked together on many construction projects in the Mideast. Indeed, they're currently collaborating on a $20 billion deal with the Saudi government to excavate two new ports. Furthermore, the Bin Laden family owns a $10 million stake in Bechtel Corporation's investment subsidiary, The Fremont Group. Of course, the Bin Laden's are also old friends with the Bush family. It's a small world, after all.
Halliburton has vaulted to the forefront as the USA's premier - and most corrupt - war profiteer. Before revolving-door gamesman Dick Cheney became Bush II's running mate in 2000, he was receiving a multimillion dollar salary as Halliburton's CEO. Upon becoming Vice President Cheney, he oversold the invasion of Iraq by falsely alleging that an imminent threat was posed by Iraq's nonexistent WMD arsenal. Since the invasion, his cronies at Halliburton have reaped profits of at least $18 billion from their Iraq War contracts. And Halliburton's revenues increased by 80% between 2003 and 2004.
Meanwhile, Halliburton was perpetrating countless acts of fraud, stealing multimillions through over billing, and taking millions in kickbacks to its executives. For instance, the Defense Contract Audit Agency recently concluded that Halliburton over billed US taxpayers by $212.3 million for fuel transportation in Iraq. And Halliburton is currently under investigation by both the FBI and the Securities Exchange Commission for numerous illegalities. Nevertheless, Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR continue to receive lucrative no-bid, gold-plated defense contracts from the Pentagon.
Noting this blatant cronyism, CorpWatch disgustedly concludes that "Halliburton's agenda is so merged with that of the Bush administration that questions raised by auditors, inspectors-general, and other independent agencies - not to mention corporate accountability groups - languish silently in Congress and
the White House."
Furthermore, these same major defense contractors - the Carlyle Group, Bechtel, Halliburton, and their subsidiaries - donated millions to the Republican Party and the Bush-Cheney campaign. Additionally, they paid for extravagant parties at the 2004 political conventions and the 2005 presidential inauguration. In short, war is a lucrative business that pays the elite war-profiteers and the Washington bribe-ocrats handsomely, while it impoverishes the taxpayers, drains the federal coffers, decimates the target nations, and kills the combatants and their innocent victims hideously.
Warlust eventually ravages nations just like a highly-addictive narcotic ravages people. Warfare's savagery inflicts destruction on prey nations immediately, whereas it destroys predator nations mediately. War initially produces a stimulative "high" for the predator's domestic economy. Leaders in predator nations ignore this opiate-like economic addiction to war because it serves to enrich their upper classes. Warfare is instantaneously lucrative for the military-industrial complex's depraved war-profiteers, but can cause an entire region's economy to become depraved war-addicts over time. For instance, the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure Commission ("BRAC" ) recently issued its report on military base closings.
In response, US Senators insisted that they CANNOT close any military bases in their states, because bases provide jobs and generate income for local economies (e.g., $42 billion annually for California's economy). And US Representatives like House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) insisted that their districts cannot survive without the income generated by military bases (e.g., $18 billion annually for San Diego's economy).
In other words, most states and large cities cannot survive without taxpayer-funded monetary injections from military bases, and this vast archipelago of bases cannot be justified without an endless succession of wars, so our regional economies are addicted to war. Hence, BRAC proposed closing only 33 out of 1,700 bases. And no bases will be closed in Chairman Hunter's militarily-dependent district, San Diego.
That's 1,000 less base closures than is necessary to provide adequate funding for America's indispensable social safety-net programs. And a reduction to 700 bases would still allow the USA to have three bases in each of the 50 states, and at least one in every nation in the world. Folks, that's more than enough!
Consider that the economic "high" from an addiction to war is always a Faustian bargain. It compels the addicted nation to start an endless succession of destructive wars in order to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms, which otherwise would appear in the form of recessions and depressions. Penultimately, it forces the working class to pay the highest price in blood and treasure. Their children become cannon fodder and their taxes are squandered to finance military adventures. Militaristic nations always collapse because their criminal acts of aggression are not only morally indefensible but also economically unsustainable. Ultimately, war destroys empires as well as it does people.
The Bottom Line: Might As Well Face It, We're Addicted To War.
One certainly need not be a pacifist to recognize that there is powerful evidence that the USA is economically addicted to war. If so, this would explain why our political system is dominated by the ultra-militarist War Party and the crypto-fascist Bush family (i.e., the pushers), while our economic system is dominated by the military-industrial complex and its mafiosiesque war-profiteers (i.e., the kingpins).
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