War is a racket, according to decorated vet
At this writing, the Legislature in Dover is winding down for the year as the push for more gun control continues while ignoring rational self-defense measures.
Ironically, the atmosphere with the bureaucrats in Washington is directly opposite, with military arms sales lacking any sense of control. It becomes apparent when you look at the underbelly of our foreign policy where the business side of war lives.
An event from last year made me think.
I was in BWI airport walking to the boarding gate when I heard loud clapping and cheering for some older veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, most in wheelchairs. It was part of the Honor Flights project to take veterans to Washington to visit various war memorials as a sort of last hurrah.
What grabbed my eye was a group from defense contractor Northrop Grumman wearing their bright blue T-shirts with the company name and cheering vigorously. It had all the markings of a scripted public relations stunt - thanking their oldest surviving "customers" while promoting themselves.
The old vets probably don't even know who Northrop Grumman is, much less their involvement in the military-industrial-congressional complex. It made me curious, so I checked with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which tracks global arms deals and companies. It was an eye-opening read.
Globally, the world spends an astounding $1.69 trillion on all military expenditures "annually"... Of the top 10 companies in sales, U.S. firms make up seven of them. Northrop Grumman comes in at No. 5 of the top 10 of worldwide arms sales, totaling $21.4 billion in 2016. The behemoth Lockheed Martin is in first place, with $40.8 billion in sales, followed by Boeing and Raytheon (think bombs) to round out the top three. On the top 100 list, U.S. defense companies accounted for a whopping 58 percent of total global arms sales - $217.2 billion in 2016.
Business is especially good since 9/11...peace not so much. So, how did we get here?
Remember when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and our existential threat left the stage? All the talk was about a "peace dividend," meaning we thought we'd enjoy a reduction in our foreign interventions and military budgets in the future. Not so fast.
The search for a new enemy was right around the corner in Iraq with Saddam Hussein playing the new heavy for the MICC in D.C.
Even though we were his military supporter in their eight-year war with Iran (1980-88), we needed a new patsy, so we winked when he wanted to invade Kuwait and then turned on him.
So, for 25 years and counting we, in one form or another - invasion, sanctions, fly-overs, second invasion, mercenaries - obliterated the sovereignty of a country that never attacked us, had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no nukes. Israel, though, was delighted, and is working us again to double-down in Iran.
In total, up to about 1 million Iraqis have been killed since 1991, not to mention the destruction of their country, causing millions to be displaced from their homes as the mayhem continues.
Our generals feed us political propaganda about "generational conflicts" that con us into tolerating decades-long wars that are never won. Not to mention the record opium harvests in Afghanistan that our military overlooks, which trickle down to Delaware.
At home, though, we are busy celebrating anything military. We have parades, display huge flags in stadiums, and wear camouflage fashion. Our war veterans display their baseball caps to tell everyone which un-won war they participated in.
Everyone's a "hero."
We never really consider the horrors of war because it doesn't really touch us in large numbers since the draft ended, which eliminated large war protests. We've bought the George Bush line that they attack us because "they hate our freedoms," even though a dismissed government study blames our aggressive foreign policy for the blowback.
We thank soldiers for their service, but we avoid looking closely at the disastrous consequences of their actions on others and themselves. A recent statistic reported that about 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Mostly over the horrors they've seen or participated in.
But to the MICC, those vets are only "road kill" as they cash in "biggly," as the president likes to say.
It reminds me of a book by the most highly decorated soldier at the time, Marine General Smedley Butler: "War is a Racket," from 1935. I wonder when our status-quo, progressive senators and congresswoman will insist on arms control in Washington where we need it?