July 22nd, 2010 00:19 EST
War is a Shell Game Politicians Play to Keep Us Distracted
What is the business of the United States, to assure peace, prosperity and a bright future for its people "or to make war?
Are we the United States of America or War Inc.? Do we the people govern ourselves or do paid stooges govern in behalf of bankers?
Since World War II we have been more or less continuously at war. The authorized version of this is: War has been imposed on us, first by the Red Menace and then by Islamic terrorists. And we, the hapless victims, have had no choice but to fight. " Isn`t the truth that there will always be some menace, some reason for going to war?
Does the authorized rationale stand up to scrutiny? Did the Communists try to push us around? Sure. And we pushed back. But did that justify Vietnam? And does the threat of mindless Islamic terrorists with their snaky reasoning justify our incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq? And will they justify incursions into Yemen and every other place where Islamonuts choose to bully the locals and train young dupes to go forth and kill the innocent?
And will any of this justify our stubborn refusal to re-examine our view of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, which has fueled so much bitterness towards us in the Muslim world?
War sets us up for heroic posturing, high drama and self-righteousness. Diplomacy, alas, lets us in for unfathomable subtleties and boring speeches. War is great for sound bytes. It`s a simple way to create and maintain industries. The bankers love it. Peace is as elusive as a good marriage.
Perhaps the reasons for so much war lie much closer to home. Perhaps the maintenance of such an immense military establishment with the culture that goes with it is a convenient reason for our failing to rebuild a thriving middle class, for putting higher education out of the reach of all but the rich, for countenancing an inferior and costly health care system, for keeping more people in prison and jail than any other nation on earth, for justifying lower and lower wages and fewer benefits and less security, for sending the poor to war and allowing the rich to dodge their responsibilities. And last but not least, for spectacularly failing to promote green technology to end our dependence on oil.
The list is longer and more obscene. We represent five percent of the world`s population. Are we simply more criminal than everybody else on earth or do we incarcerate more of the poor? We spend an average of $29,000 a year on each prisoner. We spend so much on war "and prisons "that we cannot address this long list of social injustices. This militarist policy enriches the bankers who hold our war debt and the profiteers who buy the politicians who make war. Absent from discourse when the deficit hawks speak is the subject of war and all the things we can`t afford because we are at war.
It would be easy to say war is what we do best, but it isn`t true, is it? Losing wars at the cost of bankrupting ourselves is more like it. But the banks profit. And the profiteers profit. And their hands are bloody, and so are those of the politicians who acquiesce to war without declaring it, thereby showing their contempt for the Constitution.
We do many things well. Look at Apple and the markets it has created for its technical magic. But the banks cannot make as much money on Apple as they can on death. In the short term all the flag waving, all the lying, all the Arabophobia may obscure it, but in the end the hard fact will emerge that in contravention of the best ideas of our forefathers we have become "we have willingly become "War Inc.
The 2009 film Big Fan portrays a working class man whose life is ruined by his fanatic devotion to the Eagles football team. He annoys a star player, his hero, and is beaten senseless by the hulking man, suffering brain damage. Is it possible that in our role as fans of militarism it will beat us senseless, impoverishing us? We had meant for militarism to be a last resort, but that is not what it has become for us. The more we fail to do other things right the more we turn to militarism as the thing we can count on doing right. That explains the call of some people for the Navy to handle the BP oil spill when the Navy knows even less than BP about containing such debacles.
One definition of insanity is that you do the same thing over and over again no matter how many times it has failed. Our war policies are beginning to look like that. What we hear about Afghanistan is what we heard about Vietnam. We ruined a generation of young Americans in Vietnam and we are ruining a new generation now. And none of the services that would create social justice for the rest of us "affordable health care and education, for example "will ever be affordable as long as we wage endless wars for the benefit of people who don`t need those services.
Our army does not remotely look like the politicians who send soldiers to die. Our army looks like our demographics, but our politicians look like our perniciously Eurocentric and antique image of ourselves. We refuse to reinstitute the draft, which is arguably more democratic and egalitarian than a standing volunteer army, not because we think it would be less effective, as we claim, but because we know that it would be more difficult to make war if the children of the privileged had to fight it.
Every pronouncement from Afghanistan and our generals, every pronouncement from Washington about it, sounds eerily like all those hollow pronouncements we once heard about Vietnam. Give us more troops, more time, more money, and we will turn this thing around, we will bring democracy to these people. Oh yeah, we`ve heard that before. We`ve been down that road. And we still haven`t provided adequate care to the men and women whose lives were shattered in that war, just as we`re not providing adequate care to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
War Inc. has no intention of caring for these veterans. It has no intention of paying Americans decent wages, of putting higher education within their reach, of securing their futures. But War Inc. will go on urging them to buy with money they don`t have. It will go on writing predatory loans. It will go on firing people whenever the shareholders demand more profit. It will go on ignoring renewable energy in the service of Big Oil. And, above all, it will go on making war.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com