War, Incorporated.
July 17, 2002 7:04 PM   Subscribe

War, Incorporated. "'War is a racket. It always has been....A racket is best described as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.' Words of a radical peacenik? Only if a Marine Corps Major General qualifies as such." Of course, this particular Major General was talking about the oooold days when corporations had the political pillow-patter down, and our elected officials were the best money could buy. Not like the way things are today.

And who was this crackpot Ike, anyway?
posted by fold_and_mutilate (18 comments total)



posted by dash_slot- at 7:24 PM on July 17, 2002

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Often-quoted as it is, this warning from (I like to think) a reluctant old soldier like Eisenhower is ever more relevant.

Look at the countries with enormous arms industries (the U.S.; the U.K.; France), cross them with capitalism/money/jobs and there's a hell of a case for an international police force, well-armed and financed, to pursue all those who choose terror and violence.

Countries fighting each other is barbarity.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:38 PM on July 17, 2002

Don't forget the next part of the warning:

"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Good links fold, thanks.
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on July 17, 2002

civilian deaths from U.S. bombing in Afghanistan surpassed 3,700

This is the new Godwin's Law. More rose-colored, cumbaya lamentations on a world that does not exist (except in the drug addled minds of a graying generation). War is bad. No shit. So is 3,000+ dead people. You go pass your olive branch to Uncle Osama or Arafat and gauge their well-reasoned response.
posted by owillis at 8:11 PM on July 17, 2002

Where does the cycle stop owillis? Does it ever? Should we concede ourselves to an inevitability we do not like? Human-kind did not like the inevitability of being planet-bound and we know where that aversion led us. Into the skies and beyond. A dream that all humans could get behind.

I can imagine the audience of Eisenhower's speech feeling a great swell of optimism by his lofty farewell ideals and declaring for themselves, that the cycle would be stopped with them. But many years on we are, and the criminals and charlatans have found new ways to pursue their selfish elitism. You can't even write idealistically on an internet board without being belittled. Things sure have changed haven't they? To think, there used to be presidents who spoke the way a tiny minority of us do today.

Or are we that tiny? Maybe people don't take too courageously to being lambasted for being such a cheese-dick utopian.
posted by crasspastor at 8:35 PM on July 17, 2002

Although Eisenhower is barely mentioned in the main link, it should be pointed out that his obsession with ports and oil were critical to the allied victory in WW2. Much of that obsession set up the foundation for American military positions across the world. History lingers.

Ike was a fascinating person and one of my favorite historical figures of the 20th century. For someone so completely vital to the shape of the future we're now living in, he somehow retained his humanity while waging war against some of the worst humans are capable of. As for the comment about his selection of DuPont to help develop the Interstate highway system, Eisenhower believed in American industry and used it for strategic advantage. Without a doubt, the manufacturing capabilities and resources of America lead to victory in WW2.

Countries fighting each other is barbarity.

Every government's first responsibility is to protect it's citizens. If someone is bent on killing those citizens, not fighting back is voluntary genocide. When a group says "we will kill your people" it is the governments job to stop them before they can.

civilian deaths from U.S. bombing in Afghanistan surpassed 3,700
This is the new Godwin's Law.

No, there's some truth in Godwin's law. This is an indicator that the source is a lousy researcher and calls into question all presented facts as dubious. The Media is not biased for failing to report that which isn't true. (They do enough of that as is.)
posted by joemaller at 8:52 PM on July 17, 2002

Speaking of war being a racket, there's a new Salon Premium article which suggests that one reason Bush wants to get Saddam is to prevent Iraq's oil from being acquired by European, Russian and Chinese oil companies.

"It would be possible, in theory, for the United States to satisfy its need for increased oil supplies with added imports from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE alone. But American officials are well aware that conflict and disorder in any of these countries, or a lack of adequate investment, could prevent the delivery of adequate supplies. It is therefore U.S. policy to diversify its dependency as much as possible, by increasing imports from other suppliers. Hence the current drive to acquire additional supplies from Russia, Nigeria and the Caspian Sea countries. But none of these alternative producers can compare to Iraq in its capacity to boost production substantially. With 113 billion barrels of proven reserves and indications of vast untapped reservoirs in as-yet-unexplored areas of the country, Iraq is the only country besides Saudi Arabia that can add millions of barrels per day in additional production over the next 10 to 20 years. It is for this reason that Iraq looms so significantly in America's foreign energy policy.

"The most detailed survey of recent Iraqi oil deals appears in the 2001 edition of World Energy Outlook, the annual publication of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental body based in Paris that the United States helped create. According to this survey, Iraq has sold off development rights to areas holding an estimated 44 billion barrels of oil -- an amount equal to the total proven reserves of all East Asian countries combined. Among the companies that are parties to these deals are such European giants as ENI and TotalFinaElf along with Lukoil of Russia and the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC).

"These development projects cannot be implemented in the current political environment, which places Iraq under U.N.-imposed economic sanctions. But if sanctions are lifted, and the current regime (or one that it allows to be formed) remains in power, Iraq's vast untapped reserves will fall under the control of non-U.S. companies. Some of these companies will, no doubt, want to sell their output to the United States; others, however, may prefer to send their oil elsewhere, or to use these supplies for political advantage. In any case, the United States can have no assurance that they will be available to satisfy America's future energy requirement. Obviously, the only way to prevent this from happening is to engineer a "regime change" in Baghdad, and install a government that will cancel these agreements."

posted by homunculus at 9:05 PM on July 17, 2002

I think owillis has the right idea. we should just accept the mindless and archaic brutality of war, because the alternative is just too terrifying!
posted by mcsweetie at 9:49 PM on July 17, 2002

Poll Finds Concerns That Bush Is Overly Influenced by Business.

I moused over that link expecting it to lead to the Onion, not the NYT.

Does anyone in America actually think that the phrase (and to be fair, you could replace 'Bush' with the name of any president of the last few decades) ' Bush Is Overly Influenced by Business' to be anything but self-evidently true?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:54 PM on July 17, 2002

The issue, Owillis, is not whether civilians die in war, but whether their lives are worth it for the cause. I think it's too early to say whether or not those civilians were worth it, I keep hearing that Al Qaeda is stronger than ever.
posted by chaz at 10:02 PM on July 17, 2002

It's hard to know where to start. He cites Women's Studies Professor Marc Herold's "3,700 civilian casualties" figures without a trace of questioning the methodology. (No other casualty count, save perhaps that of the Taliban government, is as high. Most wire services conducted their own counts: the AP, in February, estimated Afghan civilian casualties at 500 to 600; the UPI, I believe, reported its figure of 853 prior to last month's apparently mistaken bombing of a wedding party.

Then there's the Roger Rabbit GM conspiracy legend, which is treated with disdain by Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope.

Then there's why we should take the cynical carpings of an ex-military man (the most cynical of demographics, if you can find one) as some kind of Zinn-esque alternative history that Explains Everything; how convenient that it plays right into the thesis of our esteemed commentator. Now, tell me again, why would a retired general post-WWII have been in a position to know that the military were just hired hands back in 1914?

And the national interest of having access to oil is by no means the same thing as sacrificing our national interest for the monetary interest of oil corporations. That national interest would remain if we were flat-out, hard-left, yowza-Red communist.
posted by dhartung at 10:51 PM on July 17, 2002

It isn't so much about exact figures of who has died and how many, but that there are in fact, dead people, affected people, traumatized people. And for what? The answer is so easy for us to say staring into a blue glow. We really cannot answer for how each individual must have to take in witnessing such carnage of family and friends and what that does to the psyche and the wherewithall to get up each morning and do something constructive for Afghanistan.

Where are we now as a people in America since 9-11? Still somewhat jittery to say the least. Not because we share differing views of politics and that makes us nervous. But more like, each of us fear for our lives in that we value them infinitely. Whoever it may be that seeks the killing and whoever it is who is victimized, one thing stands out, we all seek to survive. And those who do survive, carry with them stories and impressions of their experiences. A butterfly is trampled in a prehistoric time travel excursion; A gaggle of children is decimated by a smartbomb; what does either occurence do to our future?

Should we be haggling over the "methodology" of how we've come to the victim total in the WTC attack? Fuck no. It has affected us and that's what counts. We're determined to exact revenge. Still, whichever side you find yourself in this international connundrum, no one would appreciate having a wedding in the family interrupted by Freedom Being Secured. Nor were any of us impressed when the Islamic fascism of wealthy fundamentalist extremists made their point on September 11th 2001.

On and on and on it goes.

Then there's why we should take the cynical carpings of an ex-military man (the most cynical of demographics, if you can find one) as some kind of Zinn-esque alternative history that Explains Everything; how convenient that it plays right into the thesis of our esteemed commentator.

So then what's your point?

If an "understandably" cynical ex-military man has an experience to convey and it doesn't jibe with your current comprehension of propaganda he's therefore "Zinn-esque", his position, sight unseen, unworthy of consideration?

An Afghani died in the WTC attack. An Afghani, an American, a Canadian died in Afghanistan. The worth of human life is so different of course, from mile post to mile post on the Silk Road.
posted by crasspastor at 2:40 AM on July 18, 2002

"As long as war is regarded as wicked it will always have its fascinations. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular." I thank you Mr wilde, unfortunately vulgarity it seems is a sought after virtue.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:05 AM on July 18, 2002

Then there's why we should take the cynical carpings of an ex-military man (the most cynical of demographics, if you can find one) as some kind of Zinn-esque alternative history that Explains Everything; how convenient that it plays right into the thesis of our esteemed commentator. Now, tell me again, why would a retired general post-WWII have been in a position to know that the military were just hired hands back in 1914?

From thw White House's biographical sketch of DDE:

Born in Texas in 1890, brought up in Abilene, Kansas, Eisenhower was the third of seven sons. He excelled in sports in high school, and received an appointment to West Point. Stationed in Texas as a second lieutenant, he met Mamie Geneva Doud, whom he married in 1916.

In his early Army career, he excelled in staff assignments, serving under Generals John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, and Walter Krueger. After Pearl Harbor, General George C. Marshall called him to Washington for a war plans assignment. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in November 1942; on D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France.

In other words, Eisenhower's military career basically spanned the entire period from WWI to WWII and most of his early career spent as a chief assistant to Pershing and MacArthur before himself holding the top job, and then almost immediately serving 8 years as President of the United States. Who better to see this first hand, dhartung? Eisenhower's remarks have long been well-regarded for their perspicacity on the very course of history for the near half-century following them, regardless of the current context. That they continue to have resonance is testament to their fundamental truth, regardless of your need to discredit them.
posted by briank at 6:18 AM on July 18, 2002

Then there's the Roger Rabbit GM conspiracy legend, which is treated with disdain by Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope.

That accounts for only one city, Los Angeles. National City Lines (formed by GM, Firestone, Standard Oil and others) replaced electric rail with GM buses in 45 cities in 16 states. GM was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to replace electric transportation with buses and to monopolize the bus sales to local transportation companies throughout the country. It might have been a legend in LA, but it wasn't across the rest of the country.
posted by espada at 8:28 AM on July 18, 2002

briank: I was referring not to Eisenhower, but to the individual quoted in the FPP and the referenced article, Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, Ret. Foldy brought in Ike, but Ike wasn't quoted in the article. Thanks for reading everything before commenting.

espada, I will simply quote Cecil Adams: But most authorities agree that trolleys bit the dust in LA and elsewhere not because of a conspiracy but because they were slow and inconvenient compared to autos, and in the long run just couldn't compete. Los Angeles is typical in this respect. It has neither the high population density nor the concentrated downtown necessary to support rail transit. That Third Rail article suggests, among other things, that GM promoted diesel busses because diesel busses would bankrupt their operators and discourage bus ridership, thus encouraging automobile use. It doesn't look like an unbiased source, in other words.

Let's review what the article said: GM�s successful campaign to destroy urban mass transit systems. That is not the same thing as "replacing street cars with buses". The charge is that GM sought to ELIMINATE urban mass transit, but the evidence shows instead that they sought to PROFIT from mass transit, which regardless of GM's intentions would have faced stiff competition from the mass-produced automobile. Snell's point, to the extent there is one, is that a monopoly or near-monopoly with fingers in competing market segments might ultimately favor one or the other.

There is no evidence, however, that independent bus operators would have done much better, nor that independent trolley operators would have continued. Indeed, most urban and suburban rail systems always faced stiff capital improvement costs, constant shortages of rolling stock, and by mid-century most had succumbed to bankruptcy as maintenance and labor costs spiraled. Thus, GM or not, the same result. Since GM's actions are nearly indistinguishable from that of a hypothetical ideal operator seeking lower operating costs and route flexibility without capital investment, calling it a "conspiracy" stretches credibility.
posted by dhartung at 2:12 PM on July 18, 2002

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