Exit Strategy or Essentially Endless?


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  

This world in arms is not spending money alone.  

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.  

This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  

Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The United States Military Industrial Complex has might.  General and former President Eisenhower understood this.  He warned Americans.  Abundant might does not make right; it only advances the notion of righteousness.  Patriotism is promoted through militarism.  His words fell on deaf ears.  The sound was hollow in contrast to the drone of drumbeats.  At the time, Americans were as they are today; dedicated to the customs we think characterize democracy.

We see this in many a war and peace policy.  Questions are asked of the government and the people. Testimony is taken.  Think tanks assess Foreign Policy. Conclusions are drawn and decisions made.  Still, in 2010, a few within the electorate wonder as General Eisenhower had.. With Al-Qaida Fading, Why Expand the Afghan War?

Nationalists take up arms in the name of the greater good.  Compatriots will do anything to defend and protect the principles that guide the American way of life.  Patriots wave the flag and pledge allegiance to this country.  Loyalists are looked upon as heroes.  Soldiers voluntarily sign up for service.  Troops are sent to foreign shores.  Combatants fight for what citizens know is correct.  Few suspect that their tax dollars pay to fund allies who are what has been defined as enemies of democracy.  Headlines herald; Pakistan Aids Insurgency in Afghanistan, Reports Assert.  The business of endless battles goes on as usual.

Perchance, countless citizens surmise, only Presidents past and present, know the secrets that necessitate endless engagements.  Confidential papers might provide clues to the American practice; today’s US-armed ally will be tomorrow’s enemy., A few question group-faith.  Individuals inquire, why might this war or that be deemed “absolutely essential.”  Most are satisfied with each Administrations answers. Indeed, Americans accept as General Eisenhower espoused. Money moves us to war.

Millions more are spent by and on mercenaries.  Billions are paid to private industries that produce weaponry.  Worldwide, economies whirl on with thanks to the war machine.  Whistleblowers are silenced.  When documents are leaked, the persons who snitched are sought out.  Presumably, dissent will be punished by the law.  Prosperity and profits, people’s livelihoods are dependent on the illusion the Military Industrial Complex has created.  

So, strike up the band.  March on and march forward.  Follow in lockstep, or follow the leaders history has left behind.  Ponder a time, when the marketplace will not dictate doctrines and military deeds, a democratic system not defined by deliverance, liberation, or occupations. Think to pursue a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and provide for the common defense. Henceforth, let us promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.  Endless engagements need not be recognized as ideal.  

So please. Pursue peace.  Promote peaceful negotiations. Develop the power of diplomacy.   Move On. Progress.  Speak out as President Eisenhower did!  Do not allow your voice to be muffled!!  En masse, the people can be the absolute power!

Please ponder this petition or its origin, and the reason for its revival.  Reflect upon prose penned by Major General Smedley D. Butler.  If you choose pen your signature .

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war, a few people make huge fortunes.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

~ by Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC Retired

References for a Military Industrial Complex reality  . . .

The Change; Hope


copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It is said, as individuals, we can achieve all we conceive, if only we truly believe.  President Barack Obama once knew this.  He lived this veracity.  Indeed, candidate Obama’s audacity and accomplishments gave Americans hope.  When Barack Obama reached for the sky he realized what no one thought he could. The electorate was energized.  People came to expect the country was in for a change.   Now, it seems Mister Obama is bogged down by what Eisenhower understood, concerns of the Military Industrial Complex.  

The intricacy of the Armed Forces mission does not confine itself to forceful martial escalation.  Nothing escapes the wide reach of combative nation building.  Lives are lost.  Limbs crushed.  With bullets ablaze, brains are battered or blown to smithereens.  Hope suffers.  Hearts are hurt.  The economy is also affected.

Education policies are altered.  There are few pennies left to provide for adequate instruction.  Health care coverage fiscal calculations related to medical treatments and delivery of services are transformed.  The  billions of dollars spent on defense surpasses any other consideration.  This fiscal truth is obviously not lost on a Commander-In-Chief burdened with the need to appease his many Advisors, most of whom, from the beginning, were intent on war.  

President Obama could not ignore or forget his own earlier rhetoric.  After all, his words “Afghanistan is a war of necessity,” helped him win over the hearts and minds of Conservatives and Independents during the recent election.  As one who believes and works to builds consensus, some say President Obama chose to take the middle path.

With his decision to send more troops, into Afghanistan, the President  has shattered the dreams of many.  Another surge will mean countless communities will wait for more dollars to spend at home.   A patient nation, for a while longer, will remain proud and stay the course.

For now, only eight percent, the progressive fringe, feel a deepening sense of hopelessness.   Millions of Independents have also lost faith.  When only 36 percent of these think President Obama has done a fine job that could prove to be a problem.  

If, over time, personal pains become more profound, the exorbitant budgetary imbalance will not be ignored.  Misery amongst the masses will likely bring more voices of dissent.

In this moment, those on the far Left feel they must vocalize the sentiment heard in society at-large. However, without reason to believe, with signs that change has not come to those most in need, the public will turn nasty. Timidity, as history reveals, is transitory.  

Just as we witnessed in the 1960s, again in 2008, a war weary population becomes disheartened, and loud.  Americans who struggle to survive, and who realize billions, no trillions of dollars are spent on the fight, will ultimately, speak out vociferously

This week, President Obama quoted his predecessor, General Eisenhower,, “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”  Then, contrary to Ike’s caution, he bowed to the Military Industrial Complex, Should Mister Obama continue down this path people of all walks of life are likely to rise up and say; The change we once believed in, our hope, has become our sense of hopelessness.

References for the reality of hope and hopelessness . . .

War and profit: Deciphering what it means to be in the U.S. military

March Forward! Against War and Racism

© copyright 2009 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

From the newsletter of March Forward!

We join the military for many different reasons. Some of us want to have access to a college education. Some of us want job training and a steady paycheck. Some of us join to get U.S. citizenship. Some of us need to get out of debt or need to get off a destructive path. Some of us join out of pride, patriotism and a genuine desire to be a part of some greater, collective good. Many of us made the decision early-while still in high school, enticed by recruiters’ promises of cash bonuses, adventure and opportunity-while some of us joined after years as a worker, drawn by the military’s full health care and housing benefits.

Whatever the reason, we all found ourselves wearing the uniform of the U.S. military. What did we actually join? What is the role of the U.S. military in the world? What does it mean to be a soldier following the dictates of U.S. foreign policy? When we sign ourselves away to the military, what are we being used to do?

In recent years, many of us ended up in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are told that as a soldier in the U.S. military we are defending the interests of the United States. This does have an ounce of truth-but only an ounce. We are defending the interests of a particular class in the United States. It is only a wealthy minority whose interests are being defended in Iraq, Afghanistan and the more than 130 countries where U.S. troops are stationed.

In whose interests do we serve?

I was sent to Iraq believing we would be helping the Iraqi people. Once the illusions of pride and patriotism crumbled, I realized I was never sent to help anyone. I kicked down their doors and dragged them from their homes. I robbed them of their humanity in interrogation cells. I watched the life ripped out of them. I saw children torn to shreds. I witnessed my friends disabled by physical and/or psychological trauma. All this suffering and destruction for “Iraqi Freedom,” which really means the freedom of a new U.S.-installed government to hand over control of its natural resources to U.S. corporations.

It wasn’t much different for those soldiers sent to Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama or other countries that have been targets of U.S. intervention over the past half-century and more.

We are taught the United States stands for freedom and democracy, and that military force is used to defend or further those ideals. This is echoed constantly throughout our lives, in school and in the media. It is woven into the fabric of our national identity, making it possible for people to accept the deaths of U.S. soldiers in foreign lands, as long as they are assured they died in the interests of democracy.

History of U.S. conflicts

However, reviewing the history of conflicts in which the U.S. military has been involved tells a completely different story. The U.S. government does not have a history of supporting democratic movements, but rather a history of overthrowing them. Among those countries whose popularly elected governments have been crushed by the U.S. military and replaced by authoritarian and non-elected dictators are the Congo, Grenada, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Haiti-and the list goes on. Quite simply, this government – whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House-has no problem installing and backing oppressive dictatorships.

Understanding U.S. foreign policy becomes much easier if we stop looking at it in terms of “defending democracy,” and start looking at it in terms of economic interests. It is not the form of a foreign government that determines whether it ends up in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, but whether or not that government will give U.S. businesses access to its markets, labor force and natural resources. This explains why the United States supports governments with some of the worst human rights records, like Colombia, or Saudi Arabia, which has never had an election in its history! U.S. corporations reap billions of dollars in profits from these countries.

U.S. foreign policy really boils down to ensuring the extraction of wealth from the developing world by U.S. corporations. In the words of two-time Medal of Honor winner Major General Smedley Butler: “I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”

Claims that the Pentagon only works to defend the United States and spread democracy fall apart when you look at the current use of the military. It is now obvious that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the United States, nor did the U.S. government care about the well-being of the Iraqi people. A quarter of Iraq’s population of 26 million people has been killed, wounded or displaced since the illegal U.S. invasion on March 19, 2003. Iraq sits atop a massive supply of petroleum, all of which was nationalized and closed to U.S. corporations’ control under Saddam Hussein.

The role of banks and big business

The banks and Wall Street exert dominating influence over U.S. foreign policy. Our “democracy” is reserved for those who have millions of dollars to run for office, and who are funded by (and ultimately beholden to) corporate interests. Our “free press” is owned by only five mega-corporations who directly profit from the military-industrial complex and distort reality to shape public opinion accordingly.

The ruling class of Wall Street CEOs, bankers and their loyal politicians has the power to annihilate an entire country for profit-but they never fight in these wars themselves. So they have to find a way to convince the average worker that these wars are worth fighting. They must find a way to convince working-class people that we should kill and die to make the rich ruling class even richer.

Our enemy is not on the other side of the world; that enemy is in the corporate boardrooms and the Pentagon Brass. Defeating that enemy means refusing to take part in their imperialist plans and organizing together to demand real justice.