We are a jingoistic nation, saluting the Armed Forces everywhere from Super Bowls to automobile dealerships. But this is an abstract commercial patriotism that makes us feel comfortable with ourselves while we down another beer during halftime. On the individual level, the military casualties almost have been forgotten except by their loved ones. Unfortunately, the reception for and treatment of these soldiers far too often fails them.
Men make war. (There's no getting around the fact that war is a guy thing.) Then they make a deal to stop shooting and withdraw. (The US once used to win wars, but now it just makes deals.) (my em)
We worry - if at all - about how vets are treated when they return because of our mistaken notion that Vietnam vets suffered mightily from not being greeted as heroes. What Vietnam veterans truly suffered from was not their reception, but the war. That fact we tend to forget. Consequently, we think we can resolve all the possible nasty consequences of war by waving flags at airports as troops return. The deeper problem is that none of these veterans of the wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan - not one of them - should ever have been sent to war. But without a draft that can potentially strike any family in the country, those who have no fear that a family member may be compelled to serve are free to ignore the whole political and public relations process by which leaders drag the country into war and carry it on. War can be left to a supposedly "all volunteer" standing army - those poor kids with no job options or a shot at college - which is precisely what the founding fathers warned against, believing that a standing army would be used by autocrats to destroy democracy. That volunteer army, of course, is shadowed by a larger privatized for-profit army of mercenary contractors. The standing army of the poor and patriotic is alienated from the general public and left at the mercy of the president. Our recent presidents and their cronies, who hold a nearly unblemished record of evading military service, have thrown kids into war with an enthusiasm undampened by any real knowledge of what war is, while the most influential segments of the general public, feeling both grateful and guilty that their kids are safe, make no effort to restrain those war-loving leaders.
MARK KARLIN: You ask in the book, "Could there be any connections between the size of those corporate profits and Washington's patriotic dedication to eternal wartime?" This profiteering involves the private contractors on the ground in our wars, consultants and those corporations that sell big ticket items to the Pentagon, doesn't it?It's always about the Benjamins. Benjamins for the care of returning Veterans cuts into the Benjamins for the MIC.
ANN JONES: Absolutely. But it goes well beyond that. In 2011, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont released a Defense Department study showing that at least 300 contractors providing goods and services to the DOD had committed fraud. They included major corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and the big winner of the war in Iraq, Halliburton. But during ten years of warfare, the DOD had given to the top 37 fraudulent contractors alone some $1.1 trillion. The DOD got that money from Congress, and I'll let you guess the identity of the top contributors to the campaign funds of Congressmen. It's said that when President [Dwight] Eisenhower drafted his famous farewell speech to the nation, he wanted to warn citizens against a "military-industrial-congressional complex." Someone, perhaps a Congressman, persuaded him that the phrase would be catchier if he left out the word "Congressional," but Congressmen are surely in it now up to their ears. It's now next to impossible to get elected to government in this country if you oppose war because the money is on the other side. Even the Supreme Court, when it declared corporations to have the rights of people, helped mightily to facilitate that arrangement.
War has been a racket for-fucking-ever, since one caveman figured out how to stay safe and make money by collecting rocks to sell to the others.
War Is A Racket
A speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.
WAR is a racket. It always has beenGo read the rest.
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?