Would weaponeers do it if they weren’t getting paid?
Washington and Jefferson warned us -- can we still hear them?
Is your country a land or people or government? Is patriotism defending land against ravagers? Protecting people from crime and unjust taxation? Shielding government from usurpers, whether foreign or domestic? Whichever, for some, it means just the opposite, and they reap a fortune off it. We trim, blend, and append three 2008 articles by Robert Scheer, author of The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America, posted at AlterNet June 27; by Tom Engelhardt, introducing the book, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives by Nick Turse, posted at AlterNet June 26; and a letter by Gerson Robboy who terminated a career as a software engineer to pursue his lifelong dream of being a Beat Poet.
by Jeffery J. Smith, July 2008Scheer: Early in its history, the US avoided foreign "entanglements," to use Thomas Jefferson's word. What nonintervention meant, as was commonly understood even in the tavern, was don't go sticking your nose into other people's business, and certainly don't pick fights that you can't finish. That does not rule out charitable concern for others beyond your borders, missionary work abroad, and humanitarian aid, but only military expeditions that bankrupted the most pretentious and at times successful of empires. The nation's founders were in wide agreement on extreme caution as to military intervention.
Washington's Farewell Address, read each year in the US Senate, tells us: "In offering you, my Countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend ... to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign Intrigue, to guard against the Impostures of pretended patriotism ..." Those same senators ignore his advice as they approve massive military budgets. By funding the president's undeclared wars they mock Congress' obligations as laid out in the Constitution.
Another ignored president was Dwight Eisenhower: “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted; only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
The public will not support the military unless it feels that its activities are connected with a real threat. So the military and its suppliers and other allies exaggerate the threat, stressing the military option over the diplomatic one, exaggerating the strength of the enemy rather than realistically appraising it, and finding new wars to be fought with a sense of desperation.
Today, defense contractors, top military officers, and all those who work in the defense bureaucracy and industry are recipients of an enormously bountiful welfare program.
Engelhardt: While the actual number is likely much higher, $34 billion is the minimal figure for the Pentagon's "black budget" for fiscal year 2009 -- money for which the Pentagon will remain unaccountable because almost most Americans won’t know what it's being spent for. The total Pentagon yearly budget, including all the military-related funds salted away elsewhere, is probably now more than $1 trillion a year.
JJS: Draining the public treasury is no proof of patriotism. Speaking up for what’s best for the public is. It might isolate one, but one’s fellow citizens need to hear the voice of reason.
Robboy: I am a Jew and I believe that Israel has been a failure. Having read a great deal, talked with people, and traveled to Israel and the occupied West Bank, I realize a religious state is inherently segregated and undemocratic.
Once when I said something critical of Israel, a non-Jewish friend said, "I'm so glad to hear you say that! I can't say it because I would be called an anti-Semite."
Israel will not voluntarily agree to a realistic two-state solution; international intervention will be required to end what is otherwise a permanent crisis.
I believe Israel and Palestine should be united into a secular, democratic, multi-ethnic state. Sometimes I will tell another Jew that I'm for one state and it is surprising how often I get, "I'm with you." A non-Jew recently told me that she thinks all of the Jews she knows would agree with that.
I tried to look up some opinion polls. Depending on whom you ask, and especially on what you ask, you can get results that support almost any point of view.
However, no one asks American Jews: Do you favor a one-state solution? The institutional Jewish leadership avoids any discussion of this topic, not wanting to expose divisions in the American Jewish community.
A majority of the Jewish community will undoubtedly disagree with me. I do not insist on agreement. I insist that to favor a single state solution is a legitimate and serious position. You can say it is wrong, but it is not a position to be ignored and silenced. It represents a significant segment of the Jewish community.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
Ending taxation without representation -- twice
USA's Government Intervention Policy
Mark Twain and Social Justice
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