The war complex - Tom Turnipseed - Thursday, April 21, 2011

Obama won the presidency campaigning as a peacemaker but approved $40 billion for arms sales to other countries in his first year in the White House compared to the $34.5 billion President G W Bush approved in his last year in office according to the US State Department. Bush, who blustered his way into war, has been replaced by Obama, a smooth salesman for the US war complex, aka the military, industrial complex or defence industry. Obama has surged the number of troops in Afghanistan; deployed planes, cruise missiles and electronic attacks against Libya; and provided increasing amounts of arms to most of the countries in the Middle East, South Asia and most any other country that wants them.

The war complex relies on war and the threat of war to create their markets. Members of Congress, with defence plants and military bases in their states and districts and war complex contributions in their pockets, put defence spending cuts off-the-table while education, health care and other quality of life programmes are cut to the bone. A commander-in chief that goes to war, okays sales and gifts of killing tools to almost any country that wants them and takes campaign contributions from the war complex is their kind of president.

According to national security analyst Lawrence Korb, the baseline defence budget has grown for 13 straight years. Between fiscal 1998 and 2011, the budget rose from $271 billion to $580 billion. This doesn’t include war costs and the Afghanistan war alone costs roughly $2 billion per week. The US share of global military spending has jumped from one-third to one-half. If big money is made killing people is anyone exempt from being killed?

Nowadays, national security bigwigs are from the United States intelligence community, led by the director of national intelligence and includes top officers in military intelligence, the CIA and secret service. The IC collects and produces foreign and domestic intelligence, contributes to military planning, performs espionage and provides for the president’s personal security. They gather at the White House to brief the president on matters of national security like how he can authorise a nuclear attack with the black box brief case they present him.

I learned that war is a killer and money maker as a young soldier in basic training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina in 1955. I enjoyed the running and calisthenics but bayonet and machine gun training made me realize what the military is all about. In bayonet training we attached our bayonets to our rifles and ran and stuck a dummy that was ‘the enemy’. Our trainers had experienced close up killing in Korea and they made us scream “kill, kill, kill” as loud as we could and stick the dummy as hard as we could. If we didn’t holler loud enough or stick the dummy hard enough we had to do all over again.

Later we practiced shooting 30 and 50 calibre machine guns. When we finished the trainers shot up and wasted several boxes of ammunition. I asked my sergeant why they were wasting the expensive ammunition and he muttered, “Shut up young soldier, it’s the army way.” Is this Obama’s way?

He has awarded three Medals of Honour to families of military personnel killed in combat and said to each “fallen hero...gave his life...his last full measure of devotion...for our country.” Obama would be a global hero who risked his life for our country and people everywhere by saying “No” to war and the war complex.


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