Been reading a lot about World War II lately. My father fought in that war. He lost the hearing on one side thanks to shrapnel that perforated his eardrum. He lost many of his friends. He nearly lost his life.
But my reason for reading is both greater and lesser than a desire to know a little piece of my father's history: I am writing a novel set in that period.
And today, I came across something that encapsulates very nicely the malaise that the reading of the past several weeks has engendered in me. FTA:
WAR is a racket. It always has been.While Japanese farmers, office workers, and civilians were restricted to the grayest of lives by the sumptuary laws enforced before and during WW II, while Japanese intellectuals trembled under the heavy hand of the thought police and suffered torture by the Kempeitai, while Chinese peasants starved and their children were forcibly inducted into the military to fight against superior armies and lose their lives for a pittance, the wealthy crooks who engineered these wars became wealthier still. Come rain or shine, they continued to find ways to profit from the vast human suffering.
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.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, War Is A Racket
George W. Bush paid for the war in Iraq by borrowing billions of dollars from the Chinese. Now your grandchildren will have to repay that debt. I hear some people say Obama is creating a huge debt by borrowing additional monies to stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, the hole that Bush left has to be patched before everything else leaks out of it. And the only way to patch that hole is to stimulate the economy into spending.
People forget that the U.S. economy runs on consumer spending. Before George Dumbya left office, the Iraq war had already cost us three TRILLION dollars. We are bringing our troops back now, but that costs money too. Then there's the issue of reintegrating them into the smashed civilian economy. All the while, the war profiteers like Dick "Dick" Cheney sit back on their seats and bwa-ha-haaa themselves into something like an orgasm. I wish it were an organism. Something intestinal and painful and lengthy.
How many kids have lost their parents in this war? Iraqi kids? Somewhere between one and five million? American kids? Somewhere between three and ten thousand? Nobody really knows. In 2004, when the total casualty figures were around 2,000, Scripps stated that 900 American children had lost a parent to the war. However, the casualty toll has doubled since then, and most of the soldiers in this war have been professional military and reservists, which means they tend to be older, married, and have more children.
How many kids are getting back parents who are not the people they used to be? Broken in body or mind or both? How many kids have to grow up really fast, to become caretakers to their parents instead of being children any more? Smedley Butler was right. War IS a racket.
Blackwater mercenaries made two to three times the salaries of military men for the same work. No-bid government contracts made a lot of people very rich. The wholesale plunder of Iraqi oil made other people (or sometimes the same people) very rich. To us, the taxpayers, is left the broken mess, the debris, the tortured, the cripple, the lame, the halt, the blind, the miserable, people who are still fighting the war in their heads, crying themselves to sleep or drinking or drugging to forget. And they are living among us as are their suffering parents and spouses and children.
The dividends of peace are happy human lives. However, these do not represent adequate profits to those whose greed drives them to profit above all else. And to achieve those profits they will willingly sacrifice every last man, woman, and child of us upon an altar of blood.