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Recently, it was announced that the 1,000th U.S. soldier was killed in Afghanistan. By Memorial Day, 2010, U.S. taxpayers will have spent $1 TRILLION on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than one million Iraqis have been killed in our illegal, unnecessary war of lies and aggression on Iraq, and uncounted tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Afghanis and Pakistanis have been killed in the Bush-Obama Af-Pak Wars of choice and Empire in those devastated, poor lands.
In addition, more than 300,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers, and millions of Iraqis, Afghanis, and Pakistanis have been maimed in these wars. Nearly five million Iraqis, and hundreds of thousands of Afghanis and Pakistanis, have been displaced by these U.S.-NATO wars.
What good could that one trillion dollars have done if used differently? According to Mary Zerkel, National Coordinator of the Eyes Wide Open and Cost of War programs in the American Friends Service Committee:
“What is $1 trillion worth? NPP [National Priorities Project] explains it this way: if you made a million dollars a year, it would take you a million years to earn $1 trillion.
“Of course, most Americans don’t earn $1 million a year. In fact 9.9 percent earn nothing because they are unemployed. It’s a shame that we have wasted that $1 trillion on war, rather than on a WPA-style program to repair our roads and bridges that could have hired those 15.3 million people out of work for $50,000 apiece. And on top of that, we would still have had a cool $235 billion left over to invest in clean energy, producing 3.9 million green jobs while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“Many such tradeoffs exist, tantalizing us with what could have been. For instance, with that $1 trillion we could have given 4-year scholarships at state universities to the 2 million freshmen currently enrolled – and do the same thing again in each of the next 23 years. Or we could have provided the estimated 500,000 homeless families across the U.S. with affordable housing – and done that each year for the next 17 years.
“In other words, $1 trillion has the potential to completely wipe out major domestic social problems that desperately need funding as we cope with the effects of the great recession.”
President Obama has asked for, and our supine, greedy Congress will most likely give him, more than $33 billion more for his endless, hopeless wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. War profiteers make very generous campaign contributions. Congress will vote this week and soon after Memorial Day to fund this bloody, hopeless quagmire.
In the last few weeks, the following has been revealed:
This is the tragic, insane context in which we will commemorate Memorial Day this year.
Memorial Day should be a time to mourn ALL the victims of war, combatant and civilian, friend and foe, instead of a weekend merely dedicated to shop nonstop, open our beaches, and display our glittering, mega-expensive weapons of mass destruction in air shows such as the abomination going on at NY’s Jones Beach and fleet weeks such as the gaudy display of macho and metal which started in NY harbor last Tuesday.
See how “magical” and “seductive” these amazing technological machines of air and sea power are, kids! But do NOT think about the tens of thousands of lives they will obliterate and the tens of millions of your tax dollars they will consume so the World’s Biggest Corporate-Military Dominator can continue its anti-democratic global hegemony. So what if we are creating more terrorists outraged for revenge faster than we can kill them by using these “wonderful hi-tech“ weapons. So what if our own nation began with “insurgents” named Washington and Adams, Franklin and Jefferson, urging a war against imperial oppressors. Whenever our greedy, arrogant might is challenged, send in the drones!
Something is seriously deranged about a society which “celebrates” Memorial Day by such wasteful, consumerist practices as Memorial Day Sales, air shows, and fleet weeks while our nation’s innocent and idealistic young and our battered budget are hijacked by the Corporate-Militarist Beast to perpetuate wars of aggression and Empire abroad, even as our cities and infrastructure crumble at home and unemployment reaches heights it hasn’t reached since the 1930’s. Tens of millions cannot find decent jobs, teachers are being laid off by the thousands, social services are being cut to balance state budgets, and Obama’s “Deficit Commission” is considering cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, Wall Street, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Oil, and War Profiteers, Inc., all of whom gave more in 2008 campaign contributions to Obama (among other Democrats) than to McCain, are drinking expensive champagne out of crystal glasses, toasting their “friends” in the White House and Congress.
We MUST take action against this insanity and wastefulness. Calling and emailing Congress is necessary, but not sufficient. Our deeply, irrevocably-corrupted system of the President, Congress, Supreme Court, and state and local legislators is so much a part of the Corporate-Militarist problem, that it is incapable of EVER being a part of the solution, which must take the form of much more than a “reform” of this system of an exploitative, murderous, unsustainable Corporate-Militarist U.S. Empire. This despicable system, which generates enormous wealth only for the top 5% of our economy, is nothing but a system of mass death based on gross inequality.
For example, in spite of the propaganda about Obama wanting to cut nuclear weapons, he has budgeted $7 billion for nuclear weapons in his 2011 TRILLION DOLLAR war budget, supposedly to get the support of “hawks” and Republicans for other initiatives. But these people are not merely “hawks” nor “Republicans” nor “Neocons” nor “Democrats and Republicans genuinely concerned about our security”. People who believe nuclear weapons provide “security” are deeply deranged. They may be brilliant, well-dressed, well-coifed, well-spoken, kind to their children and domestic partners. But they are avatars of mass murder. They are sociopaths. And many of them are in charge.
Nuclear Weapons are much more than WMD’s. They are weapons of omnicide, murdering everything except, perhaps, cockroaches, and spreading radioactive death and illness for generations after their use. Cultures which perpetuate and tolerate their stockpiling for whatever “reason”, but especially the chimera of “security”, are cultures of Death, enthralled by Thanatos, not Eros nor Caritas. Such cultures are deeply deranged.
“Leaders” of such cultures who perpetuate the myths of “security through [nuclear] strength”, such as most U.S. Democratic and Republican politicians, and the “leaders” of Russia, China, Israel, the U. K., France, India, Pakistan, and North Korea, and all those unreformed nuclear warriors left over from the abysmal, psychopathic days of the Cold War, are dangerous, deranged sociopaths who place their narrow, warped, greedy, perverted idea of “national security” above the future of their own children and grandchildren, as well as of most other living beings on this planet.
The more than 23,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled by these nine nations right now, nearly 10,000 of them U.S. weapons, are mute testimony to a very deep sickness of the spirit among alleged world “leaders” who measure their power and “success” by how threatening they can be. If they do not appreciate that they threaten the future of their own children and grandchildren, they are willfully ignorant, blinded and delusional to a degree never known before, and, as such, are grossly irresponsible and incompetent and should be removed from office and replaced by leaders who are responsible and mature enough to lead their nations. If they DO appreciate the threat these omnicidal weapons pose to their own progeny, yet stubbornly cling to the myth of “security through nuclear weapons”, they are so deeply psychotic that they should immediately be removed from office and institutionalized.
What is needed is a dismantling of this entire murderous system of mass death and the establishment of a society in which PEOPLE and NATURE MATTER much more than profits and power. And it needs to begin here, in the most powerful militarized nation on earth, the only one which has ever used nuclear weapons to murder people.
We need a revived Populist Movement in the U.S. to restore sanity and bring humanity to policies and budgeting, and to rein in the monstrous, murderous excesses of the Corporate-Militarists now running our country. Their Class Warfare on the Middle Class, the Working Class, and the Poor is in its last stages. So far, since at least the 1970’s, when the U.S. Class War began in earnest (it has been waged since 1776), the richest 5% and their corporations have had a string of unparalleled successes, with few defeats. The result is a growing income and wealth gap in the U.S. between the top 5% and the rest of us, the worst inequality in Western so-called “advanced” societies. Such inequality is always fatal to democracy.
With the brilliant fear-mongering of the alleged “War on Terror” to supply misinformed and misled, innocent, oh-so-willing fresh blood and bodies from the working class to kill and die for Corporate Profits and the bloody, bloated profits of the War Profiteers, and with the brilliantly-engineered Economic Collapse of 2007-08 “necessitating” the bailout, by taxpayer trillion$, of Wall Street, then Obama’s gift$ to the “health reform” insurance and drug parasites, the raping of our natural environment by mining and other fossil fuel corporations (including BP), and, finally, the “need” for a “surge” of more U.S. bodies and billion$ down the rat hole of Af-Pak even as Iraq still smolders, the Class War is now in its endgame.
But still, most of us will be shopping, barbecuing, and attending “Memorial Day Celebrations” this weekend as the Corporate-Militarist Ruling Sociopaths enjoy their continuing success.
Chris Hedges wrote recently (“The Greeks Get It” https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/the-greeks-get-it-by-chris-hedges/), that we here in the comfortable, complacent, apathetic U.S. need to wage class warfare via General Strikes, boycotts, street protests, and civil disobedience. And don’t expect the fawning corporate media (as Ray McGovern so succinctly labels them) to cover any of these actions. As Gil Scott-Heron warned us more than 30 years ago, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. Yet that corporate-controlled avoidance and censorship of any real news worth covering, or any news worth informing us about, is all the more reason for us to end the anti-democratic corporate control of our nation.
Memorial Day, 2010, is not merely a day for mourning all the war dead, soldiers and civilians, in our many, many wars since 1776. It is also a day to mourn the death of active, participating citizenship, and, with that, the death of our very flawed democratic republic, which was a wonderful idea. Too bad it was never realized in practice. Too bad we were so busy “celebrating” Memorial Day to notice it was dying.