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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Opposite of Peace Is — War?

Been reading a lot about World War II lately. My father fought in that war. He lost the hearing on one side thanks to shrapnel that perforated his eardrum. He lost many of his friends. He nearly lost his life.

But my reason for reading is both greater and lesser than a desire to know a little piece of my father's history: I am writing a novel set in that period.

And today, I came across something that encapsulates very nicely the malaise that the reading of the past several weeks has engendered in me. FTA:
WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, War Is A Racket
While Japanese farmers, office workers, and civilians were restricted to the grayest of lives by the sumptuary laws enforced before and during WW II, while Japanese intellectuals trembled under the heavy hand of the thought police and suffered torture by the Kempeitai, while Chinese peasants starved and their children were forcibly inducted into the military to fight against superior armies and lose their lives for a pittance, the wealthy crooks who engineered these wars became wealthier still. Come rain or shine, they continued to find ways to profit from the vast human suffering.

George W. Bush paid for the war in Iraq by borrowing billions of dollars from the Chinese. Now your grandchildren will have to repay that debt. I hear some people say Obama is creating a huge debt by borrowing additional monies to stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, the hole that Bush left has to be patched before everything else leaks out of it. And the only way to patch that hole is to stimulate the economy into spending.

People forget that the U.S. economy runs on consumer spending. Before George Dumbya left office, the Iraq war had already cost us three TRILLION dollars. We are bringing our troops back now, but that costs money too. Then there's the issue of reintegrating them into the smashed civilian economy. All the while, the war profiteers like Dick "Dick" Cheney sit back on their seats and bwa-ha-haaa themselves into something like an orgasm. I wish it were an organism. Something intestinal and painful and lengthy.

How many kids have lost their parents in this war? Iraqi kids? Somewhere between one and five million? American kids? Somewhere between three and ten thousand? Nobody really knows. In 2004, when the total casualty figures were around 2,000, Scripps stated that 900 American children had lost a parent to the war. However, the casualty toll has doubled since then, and most of the soldiers in this war have been professional military and reservists, which means they tend to be older, married, and have more children.

How many kids are getting back parents who are not the people they used to be? Broken in body or mind or both? How many kids have to grow up really fast, to become caretakers to their parents instead of being children any more? Smedley Butler was right. War IS a racket.

Blackwater mercenaries made two to three times the salaries of military men for the same work. No-bid government contracts made a lot of people very rich. The wholesale plunder of Iraqi oil made other people (or sometimes the same people) very rich. To us, the taxpayers, is left the broken mess, the debris, the tortured, the cripple, the lame, the halt, the blind, the miserable, people who are still fighting the war in their heads, crying themselves to sleep or drinking or drugging to forget. And they are living among us as are their suffering parents and spouses and children.

The dividends of peace are happy human lives. However, these do not represent adequate profits to those whose greed drives them to profit above all else. And to achieve those profits they will willingly sacrifice every last man, woman, and child of us upon an altar of blood.

Crossposted over at The Peace Tree.

La Casa de Los Gatos apologizes for the dearth of recent posts. A bout of illness laid us low, and having had our first meal today in nearly a week, we can safely say we now have energy to start blogging again. To think that a little food can make so much difference ...

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At 2:49 AM, Blogger Sungold said...

Hey, I'm so glad you're on the mend. You are due for a stretch of *good* health for a change.

I don't know if reading other novels set in that period is helpful or not - but I'm currently rereading Penelope Lively's *Moon Tiger,* which is a wonderful evocation of the war as seen by a British civilian in Egypt. Lively spent her childhood in Cairo and eventually fled the hostilities, so she knows something about her topic. Plus it's just a great novel.

At 3:58 AM, Blogger school for the girls said...

It is a nice read, it gives me a deep thought...

My grandfather died some years back and I did talk to him about world war he said that long time a go he participated in the world war II where he was forced to walk from Kenya to south Africa. which is a very long distance most of his friends too died... and their families only received a piece of stone written their names and when they died.

War is a very horrible enemy... and I do hope our leaders will learn this

At 1:06 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Hi, Sungold, thanks for the good wishes and the recommendation. I will forthwith pursue that book.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Hi, Rebecca, so nice to see you again. I am so glad you told me about your grandfather. I really need to read more about Africa. If everything goes well, I will be visiting friends in Uganda in two years' time, and maybe if there is time I can swing by to Kenya and see the School for the Girls! Before my trip I promise I will read thoroughly at least about Uganda and Kenya so that I will not arrive ignorant like the usual tourists. Africa is the mother of us all, and it is a shame how the rest of the world is so ignorant about it! Much love to you and your lovely ladies, and praise to all your hard work.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger BadTux said...

The horrific thing about war spending is that it literally blows up wealth. If the government borrows money to build roads or dams or whatever, at least you have the roads and dams at the end of the day. But building bombs.. WTF, they just end up blown up!

- Badtux the Wealth Destruction Penguin

At 4:25 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Ain't that the troof, Badtux. No penguin ever spoke truer word. And, of course, all the auxiliary damage done by the instruments of war means you get no bang for your bux.


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