Break the “Defense” Industry Across the Knee of Democracy

Members of the American military disembark from a Black Hawk helicopter at Camp Taji in Iraq, Dec. 27, 2014. On Wednesday it was reported that President Obama would be sending more troops to Iraq while also building a new base. (Ayman Oghanna/The New York Times)Members of the American military disembark from a Black Hawk helicopter at Camp Taji in Iraq, Dec. 27, 2014. On Wednesday it was reported that President Obama would be sending more troops to Iraq while also building a new base. (Ayman Oghanna/The New York Times)

Nine months ago, I penned an article about our ongoing and seemingly endless tangle in Iraq, titled “The Pleasant Fiction of ‘No Boots on the Ground.’” Specifically addressing those who claimed, “We have to do something” regarding ISIS and the situation over there, I replied, “What you are in favor of is the equivalent of doing nothing. We will blow some stuff up and kill some people, and every bomb dropped and missile fired will transfer more of your tax dollars into the bank accounts of ‘defense’ companies. That’s it, period, end of file.”

In that article, I stated with emphasis that the US would be at war there again, and soon, because Iraq has been a bottomless cash register for the “Defense” industry lo these last 25 years. “This next war, like the last war,” I wrote, “stands to make them a great deal of money by selling US-made bombs for use against the US-made weapons we sold to them already, which are now in the hands of ISIS, because war profit is a wheel, and it always comes around.”

… and hey, whadaya know, here we go again. More troops – “advisers” – are on their way in to Iraq, this time to “advise” and “train” the Iraqi army we’ve been advising and training for going on 13 years, so they can fight the menace we created after we created the previous menace, which was created by the menace we created by the menace we created before that.

It’s a wheel, and it always comes around.

I have said it before, and am saying it again: People in the US have been hypnotized into thinking war is some magical nowhere-land where soldiers win glory for the Stars and Stripes … and it all just kinda happens, or something. No. Emphatically, no.

They collect your taxes, and then every bullet fired, every bomb dropped, every missile launched, every boot laced, every rifle greased, every field meal eaten, every uniform donned, every chopper shot down, every ounce of fuel burned, and every body bag filled is someone you will never meet getting paid, handsomely, with your money.

Cash register. Comes with sand, and sorrow. Please omit flowers.

It’s an old story. Vietnam lasted 25 years, and Iraq – counting the post-Gulf War sanctions and the bombing that came in tow, plus George W.’s ongoing adventure – has also lasted 25 years, and both were gorgeous paydays for those people you’ll never meet. The wealth of the nation has been extracted by way of war for decades through the wholesale slaughter of the “Other.”

The staggering carnage doesn’t matter to the ones selling the bullets and the bombs; the cash register must keep ringing, wealth must be extracted, and if a few thousand US soldiers along with God only knows how many far-flung civilians also get blown to rags and tatters in the process, well, that’s just the price of doing business.

Business, period. That’s all it is to them.

I get a kick out of how they fog it. When Reuters reported on Wednesday that President Obama was sending more troops into Iraq – “advisers” – they also let it slip that a new base was being constructed. Reuters stated the US was going to “open a new operations center.”

That’s pretty rich, and a marvelous contortion of the language. They could have called it a “Control Facility,” or a “Command Center,” or a “Happy Fun Soldier Place” … but it’s a base, another base, another ring of the cash register’s bell.

A few days ago, Donald Rumsfeld of all people told the Times Of London, “The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words … I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories.” He then broke both of his ankles pivoting to say, oh no, he absolutely didn’t say that, because the war was totally awesome and necessary.

These people are dangerous … but they’re not dumb.

Few things in life drive me farther up the wall than when I hear people, pundits, whoever, describe the Iraq invasion and ongoing war as a “blunder” or a “mistake.” Tell your story walking, because I don’t want to hear it. It was neither. It was a deliberate and calculated payday, one of many over many years and at the expense of many departed souls, for a war industry that needs to be broken across the knee of this democracy, if this democracy can still be said to exist.

We’re digging in to Iraq again, with “operations centers” and “advisers” … but it’s all the same payday, and has been for a pile of denuded generations now. We have been waging war on Iraq for going on 25 years. We are bombing our own weapons with our own weapons, for money. Always for money.

Freedom, and peace, begin with a “No.”

It is enough.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission

William Rivers Pitt is Truthout’s senior editor and lead columnist. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

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