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Even Lost Wars Make Corporations Rich
Posted on Jan 10, 2011
By Chris Hedges
Power does not rest with the electorate. It does not reside with either of the two major political parties. It is not represented by the press. It is not arbitrated by a judiciary that protects us from predators. Power rests with corporations. And corporations gain very lucrative profits from war, even wars we have no chance of winning. All polite appeals to the formal systems of power will not end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must physically obstruct the war machine or accept a role as its accomplice.
The moratorium on anti-war protests in 2004 was designed to help elect the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry. It was a foolish and humiliating concession. Kerry snapped to salute like a windup doll when he was nominated. He talked endlessly about victory in Iraq. He assured the country that he would not have withdrawn from Fallujah. And by the time George W. Bush was elected for another term the anti-war movement had lost its momentum. The effort to return Congress to Democratic control in 2006 and end the war in Iraq became another sad lesson in incredulity. The Democratic Party, once in the majority, funded and expanded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Barack Obama in 2008 proved to be yet another advertising gimmick for the corporate and military elite. All our efforts to work within the political process to stop these wars have been abject and miserable failures. And while we wasted our time, tens of thousands of Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani civilians, as well as U.S. soldiers and Marines, were traumatized, maimed and killed.
Either you are against war or you are not. Either you use your bodies to defy the war makers and weapons manufacturers until the wars end or you do not. Either you have the dignity and strength of character to denounce those who ridicule or ignore your core moral beliefs—including Obama—or you do not. Either you stand for something or you do not. And because so many in the anti-war movement proved to be weak and naive in 2004, 2006 and 2008 we will have to start over. This time we must build an anti-war movement that will hold fast. We must defy the entire system. We must acknowledge that it is not our job to help Democrats win elections. The Democratic Party has amply proved, by its failure to stand up for working men and women, its slavishness to Wall Street and its refusal to end these wars, that it cannot be trusted. We must trust only ourselves. And we must disrupt the system. The next chance, in case you missed the last one, to protest these wars will come Saturday, March 19, the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Street demonstrations are scheduled in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. You can find details on www.answercoalition.org/national/index.html.
We are spending, much of it through the accumulation of debt, nearly a trillion dollars a year to pay for these wars. We drive up the deficits to wage war while we have more than 30 million people unemployed, some 40 million people living in poverty and tens of millions more in a category euphemistically called “near poverty.” The profits of weapons manufacturers and private contractors have quadrupled since the invasion of Afghanistan. But the cost for corporate greed has been chronic and long-term unemployment and underemployment and the slashing of federal and state services. The corporations, no matter how badly the wars are going, make huge profits from the conflicts. They have no interest in turning off their money-making machine. Let Iraqis die. Let Afghans die. Let Pakistanis die. Let our own die. And the mandarins in Congress and the White House, along with their court jesters on the television news shows, cynically “feel our pain” and sell us out for bundles of corporate cash.
Michael Prysner, a veteran of the Iraq War and one of the co-founders of March Forward!, gets it. His group is one of those organizing the March 19 protests. Prysner joined the Army out of high school in June 2001. He was part of the Iraq invasion force. He worked during the war in Iraq tracking targets and calling in airstrikes and artillery barrages. He took part in nighttime raids on Iraqi homes. He worked as an interrogator. He did ground surveillance missions and protected convoys. He left the Army in 2005, disgusted by the war and the lies told to sustain it. He has been involved since leaving the military in anti-recruiting drives at high schools and street protests. He was arrested with 130 others in front of the White House during the Dec. 16 anti-war protest organized by Veterans for Peace.
Square, Site wide
“I believed going into the war that we were there to help the Iraqi people and find weapons of mass destruction,” he said when we spoke a few days ago. “But it quickly became clear that these two reasons for the war were absolutely false. If you mentioned weapons of mass destruction to intelligence officers they would laugh at you. It was not even part of the mission to look for these things. If it was part of the mission I would have known because I was part of the only intelligence company in the north of the country. I thought that maybe we were there to help the Iraqi people, but all I saw when I was there was Iraqis brutalized and their living conditions deteriorate drastically. Iraqis would tell me we were worse than Saddam. I soon realized there was a different purpose for the war, that we were putting in place a permanent military occupation. It was my firsthand experience during my deployment that showed me the reality of the Iraq War and led me to begin to question U.S. foreign policy. I began to wonder what U.S. foreign policy as a whole was about. I saw that Iraq was a microcosm. The U.S. military is used to conquer countries for the rich, to seize markets, land, resources and labor for Wall Street. This is what drives U.S. foreign policy.”
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