What Really Matters
Everyoneâ€™s talking about how Murthaâ€™s little speech yesterday represents a â€œturning pointâ€ in the war. Anyone reading the Internet can tell you that weâ€™ve turned so many corners as to rival the Maze of the Minotaur, and Escher would be proud of the twists and leaps of logic used by the Right to justify, explain and otherwise convince people that weâ€™re â€œwinningâ€ or â€œdoing goodâ€ in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iâ€™m going to argue that everyone is missing the point.
Letâ€™s set aside for the moment any discussion of what Bush may or may not be doing in the Middle East with respect to politics, religion and the social order. Letâ€™s also leave out what effect the war has on us here at home. Try to forget about death and madness and horror, and come with me as I take a stroll down contractor lane.
Is there any doubt that some people really want this war to continue? Recently Bush and Cheney have made some pretty ridiculous statements, calling people who want to end the war all manner of names, as if the model for the political discourse of war was best represented by your average fourth grade elementary class. Dissent and criticism, in their minds, are the worst possible evil, and support terrorism, sap the manly reserve of our troops, and make little Baby Jesus cry.
So whatâ€™s the deal? Are they really so bloodthirsty, so needle-dicked, so excited by endless, senseless, and importantly, success-free warfare? How do a couple of chickenhawks and their flock of equally service-free Republican supporters come to love conflict so much? I donâ€™t know a lot of cowards, but I do know a bunch of pacifists, and they donâ€™t like to think about killing at all. What is it about our cowardly Republican leadership that makes them so needful of the nonstop â€œtough guyâ€ talk, and so willing to send off actual tough people to die in a project designed to maintain a political status quo?
In a word: money. It not only makes the world go round, itâ€™s the real reason this war is happening. Forget about all the shifting justifications for war youâ€™ve ever heard, and just remember that one thing. In fact, I suggest you put this link in your â€œfavoritesâ€ or â€œbookmarksâ€ bar on the top of your browser. Anytime you find yourself in a discussion about the war, think about this number. And think fast! â€˜Cause that number moves faster than you can probably count. Iâ€™m number challenged, and always have to go from right to left in my head, â€œhundred, thousand, million, billion.â€ Soon, Iâ€™ll have to add â€œtrillionâ€ to that little mantra.
Here are some more numbers to look at. Keep in mind theyâ€™re dated, and donâ€™t reflect the actual totals relevant today. A snippet:
"As part of the administration's postwar work in Iraq, the government has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to American businesses. Those contracts, some without competitive bidding, have included more than $500 million to support troops and extinguish oil field fires for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, which Vice President Dick Cheney led from 1995 until 2000.
"Of the $3.9 billion a month that the administration is spending on military operations in Iraq, up to one-third may go to contractors who provide food, housing and other services, some military budget experts said. A spokesman for the Pentagon said today that the military could not provide an estimate of the breakdown.
Yup, they just canâ€™t find that file anywhere- the Pentagonâ€™s a big place, dontcha know!
Take a look at this list. And this one. $11.5 billion is a nice chunk of change, and wow! They got that much and only had to spend $2.3 million to get it! Thatâ€™s what I call a bargain. You know, I think I understand why we keep â€œelectingâ€ dumb politicians- corporations like them that way. If I were in office, Iâ€™d expect a lot more for my pro-war votes than a paltry couple of million.
We could do this all day, and still not fully account for all the money. If you feel like procrastinating and raising your blood pressure, just Google/Dogpile terms like â€œreconstructionâ€ and â€œcontractorâ€ and â€œslave tradeâ€ and â€œDyncorp.â€ But keep in mind at all times my simple point: we wonâ€™t leave Iraq until the nationâ€™s treasury has been drained of the last possible drop. They wonâ€™t quit until there are people in the streets, mobbing up against the glass of Halliburtonâ€™s corporate offices. Oh, wait- those are in the Cayman Islands. Anyway, unless and until most Americans wake up to the fact that this is a con artistâ€™s wet dream, and only and always about making â€œcontractorsâ€ rich, the war will continue. At the expense of every civilized social program you can imagine, and at the expense of millions of Iraqis and thousands of American troops shooting at each other while the cash circulates between government officials and their contracting crony friends.
War is a racket. Plain and simple, true and easily proven; this fact hasnâ€™t changed since the earliest days of human conflict. The astounding thing is how even smart people seem to forget that, and focus upon the â€œreasonsâ€ or â€œgoalsâ€ or â€œtimetablesâ€ as if they had meaning. As we seek to find ways to unite the American people in an effort to end the war and throw out corrupt Republican leadership, I canâ€™t think of anything simpler to say. â€œItâ€™s your money, and youâ€™re getting nothing in return. Nothing.â€ Americans can be a cheap and greedy bunch, so this idea should resonate where compassion, logic and expertise hasnâ€™t.