Monday, August 21, 2006

Making a Killing: The Spoils of War

The Scribe

Although the reports from Baghdad this summer might seem to suggest that all is not well with Operation Iraqi Freedom - the city a blood-smeared ruin, the American Army hiding in holes - the impression is misleading. Understand the war on terror as free-market capitalist enterprise rather than as some sort of public or government service, and in the nightly newscasts we see before us victory, not defeat.... Measure the achievement by the standards that define a commercial success - maximizing the cost to the consumers of the product, minimizing the risk to the investors - and we discover in the White House and the Pentagon, also in the Congress and the Department of Homeland Security, not the crowd of incompetent fools depicted in the pages of the New York Times but a company of visionary entrepreneurs, worthy of comparison with the men who built the country's railroads and liberated the Western prairie from the undemocratic buffalo.

There's a long history of successful war profiteering: "The words 'merchant' and 'mercenary' ultimately derive from the same root..."

How better to describe our reunion with the wisdom of the Renaissance than as the triumph of American conservatism, the happy return to the smile of immortal selfishness that shines forth in the face of President George W. Bush. The smile is well and truly earned. His administration has so improved the business of making war - broadening the market for the product, relocating the costs and exporting the collateral damage, coming up with innovations both technological and aesthetic - that none of the principal beneficiaries need go to the trouble of learning how to lift a sword or ride a horse. The dying is done by the hired help, by our now privatized and outsourced army, or by entire regiments of auxiliary civilians deployed as targets for the staging of Pentagon air shows. None of the combatants demand a share of the spoils, which accrue on clean well-lighted computer screens far from the fear and smell of death. More politically sophisticated than the condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, our own military industrial elites not only extract tribute from foreign legates in distant provinces but also hold to ransom the citizenry of their own country, accepting payment in the form of taxpayer contributions to the Holy Grail otherwise known as the federal military budget.

In the last analysis, terrorism is an idea generated by capitalism to justify better defense measures to safeguard capitalism.

Gee, ya don't suppose there's some connection between 'greed' and 'war', now do ya?

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