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Republicans, Democrats, War and Corporate Profits

By Robert Fantina - Posted on 19 September 2014

            In 1969, at the height of the U.S. war against Vietnam, Edwin Starr recorded a song called ‘War’, that reached number one on the charts. Among the lyrics are these:

War: What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing!

            Much as one would like to believe these simple lyrics, there are facts that belie them. In a report from the Financial Times from March of 2013, it is stated that private contractors earned at least a whopping $139 billion dollars from the U.S. war against Iraq up to that time, and that total is ever increasing. Kellogg, Brown and Root, a former subsidiary of Haliburton, the company once run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, the architect of this war, earned nearly $40 billion.

            So war is good for obscene amounts of corporate profits, and few politicians look at anything else.

            While there may appear to be a major disconnect regarding war and U.S. political parties, this is not the case. Few Republicans, it seems, ever met a war they didn’t like. Whenever any country in the world (at least any without a powerful U.S. lobby), does something displeasing to the U.S., like democratically electing a leftist government (e.g. Chile, Argentina), or strives to obtain their basic human rights against a powerful oppressor (e.g. Palestine vs. Israel), Republicans are all chomping at the bit to drop bombs.

            Democrats, in their own skewed view which has nothing to do with reality, are far more measured. Any war proposed or started by a Republican president is to be opposed. It is unwise, based on faulty reasoning, will only worsen conditions in the target country and do nothing to enhance U.S. security, etc. etc.

            However, when a Democrat is in the White House, things are different. All of the alleged benefits that a war proposed by a Republican president would bring, that were scorned and vilified from the halls of Congress, suddenly look reasonable. The detriments that were the focus of countless news conferences, somehow, under a Democratic president, are so trivial as to be not worth consideration.

            This, of course, is not always the case. When either party is able to raise the image of a new or existing bugaboo, both the Republicans and Democrats jump on war’s bandwagon as if it were the last ride out of town. Two examples of this desire to flex U.S. military muscle, and make a quick buck at the same time, all at the expense of human lives, are all that will be covered here.

             In 1964, a non-event was used to scare the U.S. public into supporting a major escalation of the war against Vietnam.

            The staging area for the U.S. Seventh Fleet was the Gulf of Tonkin, off the northern coast of Vietnam. On August 2, 1964, the U.S. destroyer Maddox was on an espionage mission when it was fired on by North Vietnamese torpedo patrol boats. The Maddox, with supporting air power, fired back, sinking one North Vietnamese boat.

            Two evenings later, the Maddox and another destroyer, the C. Turner Joy, were again in the gulf. The Maddox’s instruments indicated that the ship was under attack, or had been attacked. The captain began an immediate retaliatory strike. Both ships began firing in to the night, with American warplanes supporting them. However, it was later determined they the planes had been shooting at ghost images on their radar. The preponderance of evidence indicated there had been no attack.

            However, facts to the contrary, this incident was presented to the world as an act of aggression against the United States. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, empowering President Lyndon B. Johnson to take any and all means necessary to repel this ‘aggression,’ quickly passed Congress.

            The vote in the Senate was 88 in favor, and two opposed. The vote in the House was unanimous in favor. The result of this vote was the killing of over 2,000,000 Vietnamese and 55,000 Americans. The stated goal of the war, preventing the reunification of the country under a Communist government, wasn’t achieved. However, war contracts for a time exceeded $67 million per month, a very lucrative amount for war profiteers. One might look at the stated goal (prevention of a Communist ‘takeover’), and the actual goal ($$$$).

            Fast forward to 2002, and Republican President George W. Bush’s resolution to invade Iraq, this time under the false assertion that that nation had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that threatened the U.S. With Mr. Bush, his arrogant Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his yes-man Secretary of State Colin Powel proclaiming to Congress, the United Nations and the U.S. public that the national security of the U.S. was threatened by an obscure third world country, one that just so happens to be rich in oil resources, Congress once again, both Democrats and Republicans, gave the green light to war. The resolution in the Senate was approved 52 – 47, with 10 Democrats voting against, and 46 voting in favor. Forty-two Republicans voted in favor, and 2 against. However, after the House voted, the resolution was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent.

            In the House of Representatives, the resolution passed 250 – 183, with 86 of 267 Democrats voting in favor, with 179 opposing. Only 3 of 167 Republicans opposed it.

            The result, of course, was the discovery of no weapons of mass destruction, but the complete annihilation of the infrastructure of Iraq, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the displacement of millions more, the reinforcement of the view in much of the world of the U.S. as a major terrorist regime, and the reopening of internal hostilities among the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds that had lain dormant for generations. That, and billions of dollars for war profiteers.

            Today, the U.S. government, which appears to be little more than a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America, is continuing its terrorism, using drones to target alleged ‘criminals’, and so what if thousands of innocent men, women and children are killed along with them. It is bombing Iraq, once again, never tiring of bombing into submission an oil-rich nation. It finances Israel, a major violator of human rights, but one with a powerful lobby.

            So, Democrats and Republicans, the Tweedle Dums and Tweedle Dees of U.S. governance, look beyond human rights, self-determination, international law and even basic human dignity, to the almighty dollar to determine policy. And with war so very lucrative, it isn’t really necessary to look at much else.

            The U.S. is in perpetual preparation for war, which always leads to war. Financing and subsidizing so-called ‘defense’ contractors is, for Congress, a necessity. Since the money to do so must come from somewhere, cutting food programs for children living in poverty in the U.S. seems a reasonable source.

            This is the U.S., from its earliest history to the present day. An imperial power, seeking control of global natural resources, and destroying anyone and anything that gets in the way. And as long as the bizarre version of democracy that is practiced in the U.S. continues, nothing will change. This is a tragedy not only for U.S. citizens, but the rest of the world as well.

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