Remember This on Memorial Day…

Memorial Day is a holiday that most Americans take for granted. They enjoy the unofficial start of summer by making their first pilgrimage to the beach or by celebrating in the backyard with a barbecue. It is a joyous occasion where people relax, eat, drink, soak up the sun and hang out with friends. But the majority of Americans don’t even realize why they have the day off from work.

A few Americans actually follow the spirit of the federal holiday and remember those who have died “defending” their freedom in wars waged by the U.S. Government. Unfortunately, the list who have died fighting and dying at the behest of politicians is still growing longer everyday. Those names of the dead and maimed are continually added to the over 1.3 million who’ve already died and to the other 1.5 million who have been wounded fighting under the banner of Old Glory.

But does any citizen really understand why the 2.8 million fellow Americans were killed or wounded fighting in wars waged by the U.S. Government?  Most people believe that all the wars the U.S. has fought have been to make the “world (including the U.S. homeland) safe for Democracy? But when you delve deeper beyond the patriotic propaganda of why the wars were truly waged in the past and continue to be waged in the present you begin to find a disturbing pattern of why the United States Government goes to war. We should all remember on this Memorial Day that the wars that the United States of America has waged, have been waged not to protect our freedom but to enrich a very few at the expense of the very many.

Today in the United States, the military and intelligence budget stands at over a trillion dollars.  That is something that should not be forgotten on this Memorial Day.  Who profits from that defense Budget and who pays for it? In Smedley Butler’s classic Anti-War booklet, War is a Racket, he explains exactly who pays for this horrendous bill.

The bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic Instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back breaking taxation for generations and generations to come.

Now you would think that statement could have been written to describe the last decade of the War on Terror. In fact, it could have been written about any time throughout the history of the United States. He could have been describing the Indian Wars, the Banana Wars, the Spanish-American War, the War of Annexation of the Philipines, the Great War, or about WWII, Korea, Vietnam or the modern-day War on Terror and current Wars against the Dictators. The same pattern of aggressive iImperialistic warfare  unfortunately spans the History of the Untied States of America. And these wars were not waged to protect “the home front”. It was waged to line the pockets of politicians and their friends.

Smedley Butler wrote War is a Racket in 1930 in response to WWI. One hundred seventeen thousand American service men died and another two hundred thousand were wounded  in the Great War. Were they killed and maimed in order to make the World safe for Democracy? No. According to Smedley Butler the main reason why the U.S. got involved in the war was so that Great Britain and France would pay back their war debt. Those killed and wounded during the “War to end all Wars” did so to ensure the repayment of some $5 to $6 billion the allies owed  to various U.S. banks, arms manufacturers and other war profiteers. Today how much blood are U.S. service men giving on the battlefield to pad the balance sheets of defense contractors and banks today?

Even before WWI the United States military and especially the U.S. Marines were used in many wars around the world to ensure huge profits for certain corporations. Smedley Butler (two time medal of honor winner) describes his experience while serving in the Corps:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Smedley Butler says that he was a “gangster for Capitalism”. I believe he was not describing free market capitalism but what we call today “crony capitalism” or what some in Iceland call “Devil’s Socialism”. That is when big government and big business get together and ensure that some corporations enjoy the gains while the public shoulders the cost. War is the epitome of the practice of privatizing the gains while socializing the losses.  War is the greatest example of how crony capitalism benefits the very few at the expense to the many. Too bad not many remember that the wars of the past and those of the present  follow this same horrific pattern.

The U.S. military unfortunately continues on spreading the Imperialism of Washington throughout the world with its 900 military installations, 11 aircraft carrier strike groups, and over two hundred thousand U.S. military personnel on foreign soil round the world. This does not lead to an  increased “peace” but only increased pain for some and increased profit for others. And as John T Flynn wrote after WWII that U.S. military presence overseas can be used as a pretext for the next war.

We have managed to acquire bases around the world…There is no part of the world where trouble can break out where we do not have bases of some sort in which if we wish to use the pretension we can claim that our own interests are menaced. Thus menaced they (the bases)  must remain when the war is over…a continuing argument in the hands of imperialists for a vast naval establishment and a huge army ready to attack anywhere or to resist an attack from all the enemies we shall be obliged to have. Because always the most powerful argument for a huge army maintained for economic reasons is that we have enemies. We must have enemies.

Today the United States Government continues its policy of “perpetual war” against “its” enemies. But what we must remember on this Memorial Day is that the United States Government wages wars to benefit the very few at the expense of the very many. Let us remember that we pay the price for the trillion dollar military industrial complex with higher inflation and higher taxation. We also suffer at home with a continual erosion of our natural rights  to the ever  increasing aggressiveness of the “police state,” put in place to kow the public and  to protect the federal government’s growing power. And lets remember the over 6,000 who’ve died and another 40,000 who’ve been wounded during the “War on Terror.” They and their families have paid the steepest price of all defending the interests of a few at the expense of everyone else.

If you want to support the troops demand that the wars for profit end. And the only way to do that is to severely cut the military budget and force the Defense Department to only “defend” American land, sea and air.  When you turn off the spigot of war spending, close the military bases around the world and keep our military close to home, we will find that the supposed enemies of the United States of America will dry up over night.

I think it was Garet Garrett a member of the “Old Right” who wrote back in the 1940′s in the midst of WWII that “[t]here are no longer citizens in the world only subjects.” When we accept  increased militarism at home and the inevitable imperialism that follows abroad, we will continue to be “subjects” to the state and young Americans will continue to be sent to fight and die in foreign countries to benefit big government, bankers, and their friends.

We should remember on this Memorial Day that the wars waged by the United States Government instead of making the world safe for Democracy, American wars have been fought as Nock wrote to “make the world safe for U.S. investments, privileges and markets”. That is not something anyone should be ordered to die protecting.

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