Monday, April 11, 2011

A Seaside Meditation

Sitting with a mug of something warm and tasty, watching the Pacific, half listening to the squads of Marines as they run along the sand shouting the cadences of whatever the current version of "this is my rifle, this is my gun" is, and wondering where they'll all be in a year's time. It's anyone's guess, because the possibilities are almost endless...

The US has over 1000 overseas military bases in more than 40 countries. (I'd be willing to bet that many of our fellow citizens can't name 40 countries, but that will have to be a topic for a future post.) And those are just the bases the Defense Department officially acknowledges. Who knows how many "off the books" operations there are?

More than 50 years after Eisenhower warned us of the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex here we are, playing at being the Roman Empire, going broke while trying to enforce a Pax Americana on the world. (By the way, wasn't it nice of Ike to alert us as he was leaving office, after spending 8 years aiding and abetting the creation of the complex? Kind of like Cheney saying "Oh, by the way, it's probably not a good idea to let the oil companies dictate your energy policy. Bye bye now!")

So we can't possibly afford universal health care, or to rebuild our infrastructure, or provide good schools for every child and affordable colleges for those who desire them, or to change over to sustainable energy, or to keep our air, water and food clean and safe, or any of a thousand other valuable things, but we can afford to continue to arm ourselves to the teeth and deploy wherever and whenever. Right?

Do the American people really face such constant and pervasive threats, or is there something else going on?

Here's a quote from many years ago. It came from a highly decorated Marine general. Sadly, it still rings true today:

"I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, Wall Street, and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make for American oil interests. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of...Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies. In China 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."

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