Monday, September 12, 2016

Addicts of War

A recent exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Ron Paul illustrates a good point. Blitzer said that denying a billion dollar sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia would cost jobs at home. There. It's finally been said: War is financial. WAR should have its own listing on the Dow Jones Industrial index.

After the fall of the Soviet Union many of us children of the cold war thought we'd get a 'peace dividend.' We could finally cut back on defense spending, which had only accelerated during the Reagan administration, and divert it to peaceful purposes. Full disclosure, I worked for a defense contractor during the early eighties while that cold war was in full force. I left before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

That didn't happen. First we had Gulf War 1. Then Zbigniew Brzezinski writing of the need for a new Pearl Harbor to justify wars in the Middle East and North Africa. Whatever you may think of organizations like 'Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth' or other legitimate questions about the terrorist attacks on September 11, the Bush administration used the mantra 'never let a tragedy go to waste' to justify attacking precisely those countries outlined for destruction by Brzezinski in his book, "The Grand Chessboard."

We were once a manufacturing economy, the powerhouse of the world. Then we became a silicon economy, then a service and entertainment economy. Now we are a war economy. The State department recently sent the president a letter calling for escalation of the war in Syria and attacks against Assad. It was signed by 50 diplomats. These are people who are supposed to always advocate diplomacy and communication. Their weapons are words. Their success is measured in milestones not megatons.

So, what if? What if we had pursued peace as our ultimate objective in the 90's? What if we had dismantled NATO and started removing our military bases from Japan, Germany, England, and other places around the world? What if we had stopped supporting people like Saddam Hussein one year and fighting him the next? What if we had stopped funding organizations like Al-Qaeda one year and having them morph into IS the next? Wherever we trod, snakes rose up against us. What if we stayed home?

Well, American influence around the world would have to shrink. The United Nations would have to take more responsibility for its mandate as world arbiter. The Military Industrial Complex would have to reinvest in other things and the Pentagon would have whole sections empty. Lights out! And the Stock market would probably crash. It would require a major restructuring of our economy in line with what was happening in the former Soviet republics. Unemployment would skyrocket from the combined job losses plus returning vets from overseas. It would require leadership and patience.

On the other hand, we would have saved trillions of dollars. Six and a half trillion dollars alone are unaccounted for in the Pentagon budget. This could have been used for a new GI bill to retrain people for a new American economy. An economy based on integration with the rest of the world, not its domination. We could have invested in alternatives to fossil fuel, education, space travel, cures for diseases.

But we couldn't do that. We had become addicted to gun powder.

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