June 6th, 2009 11:35 EST
America's Wars: Best Way to Ruin an Economy
We are a society whose major industries are war and turning people into debtors. Were these circumstances forced on us by others? If not, what does this say about us?
It`s not a rhetorical question. I don`t know the answer. But it occurs to me that a debtor nation that finds itself almost continuously at war since World War II is in a parlous state. Worse yet, in times of high unemployment among the young, old men exhibit a Pavlovian tendency to send young people to war. We must become as good at diversifying our economy as we are at inventing reasons to go to war "remember the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and Saddam`s alleged weapons of mass destruction?
Forty-one percent of our economy consists of the financial sector, which has encouraged ruinous debt with its predatory practices. The argument that nobody forced people to buy what they couldn`t afford sounds like the tobacco industry in the 1960s saying nobody forced people to smoke.
Even if we manage to convince ourselves that the murderous monsters of Al Qaeda attacked us out of the blue and not because of our policies, what did the Viets do to provoke us? Oh yes, they waved red flags and threatened French rubber plantations.
It`s not hard to gin up a reason to go to war. Ask Dick Cheney and George Bush. Nations don`t do it for fun. They have their reasons. Ours may well be the care and feeding of our huge military-industrial sector, and as a sheer matter of policy we`re not going to cop to that. George Bush wasn`t kidding about that banner announcing a mission accomplished: the mission of making a certain segment of our economy richer was accomplished.
But does this mean we must go on fooling ourselves? Does it mean we have to bet the ranch on a two-horse economy that now teeters on the brink of chaos?
Even if you accept only that we`re no longer sufficiently diversified to prosper, how long can a debtor nation support the world`s premier war machine? Under the circumstances, the danger would seem to be that the financial sector will go on preying on the ever-diminishing middle class, ignoring the poor, as usual, and the war machine will find bigger wars to justify its existence. Such a nation doesn`t seem to have much of a future, but that won`t bother anyone eager to hurry the apocalypse.
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.
The pioneering Online Originals (U.K.), the only online publisher to receive a Booker nomination, published his novella, Alice Miller`s Room, in 1999. Recent fiction appeared in Prima Materia (Woodstock, NY), vols. I and IV, and Breakfast All Day (London, U.K.).In his younger days his poetry was published in literary journals including Solstice (England) and Beyond Baroque and Phantasm (California). Recent poems appear in Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review (www.arabesquespress.org), Perpetua Mobile (Baltimore), and Attic (Baltimore). He is the English language editor of Arabesques Literary and Cultural Journal (www.arabesquespress.org).
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.