Monday, February 20, 2006

War is a Racket

Many blogospherians seem to be shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that Bush Inc. falsified intelligence in order to instigate a war that would profit its corporate partners, but anyone familiar with history has more of a sense of déjà vu. Indeed, it has been the American modus operandi for over a century. Every war since the Civil War has been preceded by a “surprise” enemy attack and inflated threat estimates.

The explosion of the Maine sparked the Spanish-American War; the sinking of the Lusitania sparked U.S. involvement in WWI; the Japanese “sneak” attack of Pearl Harbor sparked WWII; the Gulf of Tonkin Incident led to increased troop deployments in Viet Nam; Saddam Hussein’s “surprise” invasion of Kuwait sparked the Gulf War; and the Sept. 11 attacks have sparked the current global war on terrorism.

In each of these episodes, there is ample evidence of foreknowledge and intelligence manipulation.

In General Smedley Darlington Butler’s 1935 screed, War is a Racket, Butler writes, “The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes even twelve percent. But wartime profits – ah, that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred percent. The sky is the limit. All that the traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let’s get it.” Seventy years later, that sentiment is truer than ever.

War profiteering is probably as old as war itself. As one of the famous Rothschilds put it, “when the streets of Paris are running with blood, I buy.” In the most obscene incarnation of the Trickle Up Theory, today’s “sutlers,” as they were once known, wage a three-pronged attack on their own countrymen by compromising on quality, gouging on price and hiding the profits in offshore tax shelters. Luckily for them, the press has been mostly AWOL from its duty in reporting on the handful of opportunists who have been “Saddaming” the treasury in the name of Democracy – especially when it comes to the $8 billion (that’s right, BILLION) that has disappeared from Iraq.

Seven years ago, America had a budget surplus, the lowest unemployment rate since WW2, the highest home ownership rate ever and we were at peace. Now that the “moral values” party is busy “restoring dignity to the White House,” however, we are $400 billion (that’s right, BILLION) in debt, mired in an interminable war on a noun, and at odds with our allies in NATO and the UN over our scandal-per-week foreign policy. See what happens when you give the keys of the empire to a bunch of coke-addled draft dodgers?

The alarming spike in military suicides is a telltale symptom of the corruption that defines the US military establishment. Col Ted Westhusing’s June suicide near the Baghdad airport is perhaps the most distressing (and questionable) one of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Westhusing’s suicide does not fit the standard military suicide profile; he was educated, fairly well to do and in a position of authority. But in a military campaign so obviously driven by lies and greed, Wall Street represents the ultimate authority, and for Westhusing, a West Point professor and expert in military ethics, this authority was undeserved.

“He was sick of money-grubbing contractors,” commented an Army Corps of Engineers official. Indeed, Westhusing’s suicide note stated, “I cannot support a mission that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored.”

An Army psychologist’s report on Westhusing’s suicide reveals the level to which the Pentagon has become Wall Street’s bitch.

“Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited,” wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. “He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses.”

Thank you, Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach, for confirming what I have been saying all along: We are not in Iraq to spread democracy or topple a bad guy; we are there for the oil. Period. If justice were the Pentagon’s motivation, we’d be in Sudan. Know why we’re not in Sudan? Cuz they don’t have oil, bee-yotch.

All of which brings painfully to mind a question that stuck in Butler’s craw 70 years ago and sticks in mine today: “Why don’t those damned oil companies fly their own flags on their personal property – maybe a flag with a gas pump on it?”

UPDATE [6/6/07]: E&P has more here, and documents confirming Westhusing's assessment and that others shared his concerns can be viewed here.