We continue to fight pointless wars because we are addicted to war.

And, like any addict, we will say or do anything to get our next fix.

So when we don’t have a war going, we find a reason to start one. If we can’t find one, we make one up. Sound hard to believe? Look at our recent history.

When the war interests in our nation decided we needed to ramp up our involvement they created the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which a US warship was reportedly attacked without warning – forcing us into an all-out war.

This was a hoax, but it wasn’t revealed until some 58,000 US soldiers were dead and some three millions Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded.

Then there were the vaunted Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq that no one ever found. It’s a standard ploy. Make up something that will frighten and/or outrage the American public. Start beating the war drums. And voila, we’re in another war.

ISIS anyone?

It isn’t just the 1% that are addicted, though they do make the most money off of war. Millions of regular Americans are also hooked.

The Defense Department’s $680 billion budget pays for over 3.1 million employees, both military and civilian. Another 3 million people are employed by the defense industry both directly, making things like weapons, and indirectly, such as supplying the materials and constituent parts to make the weapons. And the transport. And the food service. Or working in local businesses supported by a contractor’s location in a town. It’s big money at stake. Huge job figures. Which is why lawmakers fight tooth and nail for defense contracts in their districts and defense contractors spend hundred of millions lobbying for defense contracts.

There are military contractors and military bases in every state in the union. When we have peace and cut back on military spending every state and many local governments feel the pinch.

Contractors start laying off workers. Bases are downsized or even eliminated. And there is an immediate outcry from state and local governments. People without jobs don’t pay taxes. They not only don’t help pay the costs of government, they add to it in the form of unemployment benefits, welfare, increased visits to expensive emergency rooms when their healthcare runs out
From federal representative to town councils to union halls, all are as ready for the next war as any addict is for their next fix.

There is a cure for this war addiction.
In fact, we actually already know what it is.

Numerous economic studies have demonstrated that our economy could operated just as profitably by supplying the tools and technology needed to fight global warming, develop clean and renewable energy sources and restore the fertility of soils depleted of most of their natural fertility by decades of artificial fertilizer application in every-increasing amounts. But it will not be a quick change. We’re talking about a major re-tooling of America. And a major shift of the American mindset.

Can this even happen while we have such a profitable and nearly uninterrupted war economy in full swing?

Well, it’s in full swing for the super rich. And the just regularly rich. And for some professions and some unions. But what has this war addiction done for you lately?

Usually, addiction can’t be cured until the addict has hit bottom. So what would the bottom look like for America?

When I was a kid, a family could be supported with one income. General Motors was the nation’s largest employer and they paid an average annual wage of $50 an hour in today’s money.

Today, Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest employer and pays an average of $10 an hour. With no benefits.
For the lucky few, things are just going great. If they run a business that uses a lot of unskilled labor they can hire three part-time workers instead of two fulltime and pay no benefits and pocket a lot more money.

If some skill is required, they can find it overseas for a fraction of what they’d pay here.

But what about the average American? What about the sons and daughters of the people who built this country’s economy into the best in the world after world war two?

Blue-collar people have been feeling the squeeze for a couple decades already. Many have two or three part time incomes and one or two grown children still living at home.

Don’t you think we’re already circling the drain?

I do. But I actually think I see a way out.

Ending our country’s addiction to war and building an economy that is an engine for peace instead would be a long, drawn out process.

But the first step on that road is one that Republicans and Democrats actually agree on.

I’m not trying to be cute here, but I would like you to give some thought as to what you think is one change to our national politics that a sizeable majority of Americans of both the left and the right are in solid agreement on. More than most of them probably know.

This will be the subject of my next post.

Thank you for taking the time to listen.

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Posted in American History, The costs of war, War addiction

The slippery slope of our war against ISIS. And the mistakes we’ve made so far.

Sending our military to fight an air war is a slippery slope equivalent to our sending in “military advisers” in Vietnam.

When the war interests in our nation decided we needed to ramp up our involvement they created the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which a US warship was reportedly attacked without warning – forcing us into an all-out war.

This was a hoax, but it wasn’t revealed until some 58,000 US soldiers were dead and some three millions Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded.

Then there were the vaunted Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq that no one ever found. It’s a standard ploy. Make up something that will frighten and/or outrage the American public. Start beating the war drums. And voila, we’re in another war.

Now we’re engaged in an air war. Already there are voices in congress clamoring for a new ground war. How long does anyone think it will be before an incident is manufactured to force our president’s hand and, once again, commit fully to yet another totally unwinnable war?

And, already, we have made some serious mistakes even as we dip our military toes into this seething water.

Starting this air war without waiting for Arab nations’ ground troops was our first mistake.

It’s like paying someone to mow your lawn before they even show up with a lawn mower. Your lawn may get mowed someday. Then again, maybe not.

Arab nations learned long ago how to let the USA bear the brunt of military actions in their region. They know how high war fever runs in our country and that all they have to do is nothing. And we will rush ahead, bearing the lion’s share of the monetary and military costs.

If we had waited while ISIS continued its expansion that would have forced our reluctant ‘friendly’ nations to fight. Then we could have let them take the lead while we supported their war. Instead, we have once again made this our war. And almost our war alone.

Not waiting for the forming an international coalition of air and material support was our second mistake.

Bowing to mounting public pressure to “do something” about ISIS, especially after the beheadings, our president was essentially coerced into action. But he needn’t have acted alone.

In the first invasion of Iraq, president H. W. Bush took the time to build just such a coalition. And it made that war effort much more effective. But it begs the question, what was the lasting effect?

Continuing to believe that terror can be eliminated by conventional war is our most serious mistake.

In spite of two wars in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East and now in Africa are thriving as never before.

The more local people are killed and their homes are destroyed by American drones, the more Middle East economies flounder and fail to provide jobs and anything like hope for the future, the more young Arabs and Africans are driven to extremes of frustration. Which is the perfect culture medium for extremism.

Frustration leads to rage. Rage leads to a desire for violence. Enter ISIS, Boko Haram, etc. Essentially, we are preparing the way for increased and increasingly vicious terrorism.

We couldn’t be more stupid if we tried.

Claiming victory because Al Qaida has now been supplanted by even more vicious and vindictive terror organizations is just plain crazy.

Our war on terror has fueled anti-American sentiment and swelled the ranks of terrorist organizations. Each new organization seemingly more extreme and more violent.

Compared to ISIS, Al Qaida seems almost middle of the road. And if we don’t stop our terror from the sky approach, the situation will continue to spiral into greater and greater atrocity. Fueled by our refusal to see that all our efforts are making things worse, not better.

We’ve all heard the Chinese saying that repeating the same actions over and over while expecting a different outcome is one definition of insanity.

This is what we’re doing in our war against ISIS.

There is no quick fix to the political problems in the Middle East. And there is no fix possible that can be achieved by any nations but the nations of the Middle East.

Instead of announcing US anti-terror policy and expecting other nations to flock to our banner, we need to let them know that we are willing to play a supportive role, once they get their act together.

No one can force the pace of political evolution. No one can establish another country’s freedom and well-being. Democracy isn’t a transplant; it’s a natural outgrowth of political struggle. It takes time. And the commitment of the people of each nation.

Even if the United States could afford to continue to fight endless Middle East wars, nothing good would come of it. But we can’t afford it either monetarily or morally.

Thirty years of American war has achieved no lasting good. Instead, it has reduced large portions of those Middle East countries to rubble and despair, led to a huge increase in terrorism, made us look like naive, though militarily powerful fools. It has also convinced most of the people of the Middle East that we are morally bankrupt. That we are ready, willing, even eager to be the bullies on every block in the world.

Enough is enough.

It is time for us to stop pretending we can impose our ideas on other nations by force.
Or that we should even try.

The evidence is clear, repeated and undeniable. Force doesn’t work.

From Vietnam onward, all our wars have done is to devastate third-world economies and create the largest national debt our country or the world has ever seen.

It is also time to ask why it is that we keep getting into these unwinnable wars. And finding the answer to that is simple – follow the money.

The military-industrial complex is what President Eisenhower called it. But Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower each warned us about our democracy’s worst enemy – the growing power of corporations. Unbridled power in the hands of a few super-rich persons was the most serious and potent threat to our liberty and our way of life.

Today we refer to this group as 1%, but the game is the same. Only much more devious and serious.

The Supreme Court has given corporations and wealthy individuals unlimited ability to use their unmatched wealth to influence our elections, our hold our congress and our president hostage.

This is what I’ll address in my next post.

Thanks for listening.

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Posted in Afghanistan War, American History, Blind Faith, Iraqi War, The costs of war, Uncategorized, Victims of War, War in Vietnam