We Americans like the notions of freedom, liberty and democracy. We grew up knowing they were ours; fundamental rights that all humans deserve – and if any humans don’t have them, they ought to aspire toward winning those rights. And we’re willing to help. Even eager.
It’s always a dangerous thing when you have not only all the answers, but also all the guns.
It’s also dangerous when you discover you’re not actually fighting for freedom, liberty and democracy – unless freedom, liberty and democracy are equivalent to money, that is. And there are, actually, reasonable arguments that support the notion of money as a tangible quantity that represents freedom, liberty and democracy.
But money is not for everyone, equally. Was some notion of equality intended to exist within these notions of freedom, liberty an democracy? Perhaps different “types” of equality, based upon… merit? What we consider realistic is wholly dependent upon the predominant agreements between us all – or by who controls the water, food supplies, housing – or who directs the big guns.
Yesterday, the last US citizen left alive, who served in the first World War, died of old age at 110. Frank Buckles saw the birth of America’s fledgling war industries. Indeed, those industries allowed us to eventually successfully complete the second World War as well.
The Supreme Allied Commander of World War II was Dwight Eisenhower, who eventually became President. He was intimately familiar with the industrial businessmen and their growing coziness with politicians and military leaders. He also knew very well that when you combine money and profit-making with the instruments of killing, a recipe for disaster is close at hand.
And this is exactly what we are left with: baked from that European oven is our “military/industrial complex”, as he coined the phrase. The Supreme Allied Commander of the free Western World’s military arsenals, and our President, warned us with the utmost gravity against the military and industry’s growing influence. And even today we are left with war, in the name of profit.
So it is not surprising the industrial machines react so menacingly against “whistle blowers” or any others who bring to light any truth behind their publicly-oriented propaganda. Nor is it surprising that the majority of military leaders go into high-paid positions after their retirement from military service, into the same companies they previously channeled billions of our taxpayer dollars. And it is not surprising that we must continuously demonstrate a need for the most outrageously enormous military, no matter how that need is demonstrated.
But it may be surprising that the Department of Defense is perfectly comfortable defying Presidential orders – in this case, orders to revise their classification system – a system that classifies far more than it should, and that often does not release historical documents when it is required to by law. Let me be clear (that latest in fashion propaganda emphasis): right now the heads of the Department of Defense are defying orders – Executive order #13526 to be exact.
As Steven Aftergood notes, “The promulgation of implementing regulations for [President Obama's] E.O. 13526… is not an optional activity,” said William J. Bosanko, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees the classification system.
The industrial war machine is a perpetual and enormous drain upon our country’s wealth. We can’t even discuss taking some of that money and giving it to people who might need help with winter heating, let alone an operation or medicine to save their lives. We are the richest country on the planet, yet we cannot afford schools. All this, and our military can defy Presidential orders, and work its propaganda on Congressional lawmakers? Cheney’s Halliburton can take billions servicing the war machine, then move the company to the United Arab Emirates to avoid US law and taxes?
Propaganda is a powerful tool. Beliefs we hold dear that can be manipulated to serve an end is a weakness to which even the most headstrong among us are susceptible. The War Machine mentality is like a drug addiction – it kills while making the dealers and players rich. Right now, it is withering us, even spiritually.
And the alternative? Life! Or as a first step, perhaps, just not-death. For anyone. Or maybe, if you must, err on the side of not killing this time. Have a sit-down. Think it through. Imagine what else we might accomplish, with such a committed focus of money and attention. I imagine such a thing would cause the history books to tremble, just a bit.