“The evil that men do lives after them;
the good is oft interred with their bones.”
Way back in the late sixties I happened across an article that caught my eye: “Wage Peace, Not War!” the title read. The article itself was in a science or engineering monthly (can’t remember which one), so the title seemed a bit out of place — but the concept implicit grabbed me (I was, at the time, about as anti-Vietnam as anyone could be) and hasn’t let go since. Then just this week up pops this on Think Progress:
(U.S. Navy veteran Will) Thomas, a New Hampshire native and voter in next week’s critical primary election, has been trying to nail down the candidates visiting his state on how they would pursue peace, not war, if elected to the White House. (emphasis mine)
Thomas asked Christie a rather simple — but direct — question:
“As president, how would you respond to this issue: we have a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but we’re not living by it,” said Thomas, adding that he was deeply concerned that President Obama has proposed spending hundreds of billions of dollars upgrading and modernizing the nation’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. Thomas told Christie he thinks that money should be spent instead on domestic needs like fixing aging roads and bridges, and asked if the presidential hopeful would resolve international crises through diplomacy or warfare.
Suffice to say, Christie blew it by advocating massive increases in armed forces personnel, the conventional weapons stockpile, and priority upgrading of submarines, all costly in the extreme. He made no mention of diplomacy.
Thomas reacted to the idea of yet more military bravado this way:
“I don’t think we should be spending that much money on weapons we can’t afford and that we can never use. We should be using that money for affordable housing and healthcare and education and job training. We shouldn’t be putting it in the back pockets of Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing.” (highlight mine)
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve argued all of my adult life that military spending should be SLASHED to the point where there could be NO MORE military adventures such as Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq — to name the few I can remember offhand. I have to wonder how many trillions of dollars were WASTED simply to make a president look fearless, or maybe to reward his favorite corner of the M.I.C.? Also, how many trillions have been WASTED on our nuclear arsenal, itself easily large enough to destroy every shred of life on this planet?
Suppose for a moment that, say, 80%? of the money burned by the M.I.C. had been employed to stop wars, to improve lives both here at home as well as ‘over there’ — could either ourselves or the world in general be any worse off than the collective ‘we’ are today? How many millions of people would not have needlessly died? How much physical destruction could have been avoided? How much healthier would people be the world over? The environment? And how much lower would our own national debt be?
As Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler duly noted way back in 1933, “I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket . . . . 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 masses.”
Yes. And as Will Thomas said of Christie following their exchange, “There is a military industrial complex, and he’s part of it.” My guess is the same could be said of each and all of the current presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican — with the probable exception of Bernie Sanders.
As for myself, I guess I’ve wondered ever since I was old enough to wonder — why is it that the people on this planet can’t get their heads screwed on properly, and with a collective SHOUT loud enough to be heard on the moon, demand of ALL their leaders:
WAGE PEACE, NOT WAR!!
“Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,
to unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.”
(William Shakespeare in The Rape of Lucrece)