By George Grigoriou
The first casualty of war is the truth. Lies are followed by bigger lies, to invade Iraq. Suspected evidence of Iraqi threat was repeated in the media ad nauseum, retractions were muted or suppressed, Paul Krugman states (The NYTimes, 4/29/03).Bush declared on 4/28/03: 4 out of 10 Iraqis had no clean water to drink; more than half a million Iraqi children were malnourished; 1 in 8 children were dying before the age of 5; and nearly 1/4 of Iraqi children were born underweight. Hello!What did the White House expect after eight years of war with Iran in the 1980s, and 11 years of American-British bombings and an economic embargo? The preparation for war and the invasion were the biggest weapons of mass destruction we had in recent years. When will the CIA find evidence?
War mongering is as American as apple pie. Time magazine (2/2/03) lists the CIA’ s covert operations to overthrow governments. Greece (1967) and Cyprus (1974) are not listed. The list is longer. Ellen Collier lists 234 cases (1798 to 1993) when the US used its military to impose its policies on other countries (Dept of the Navy-Naval Historical Center). Dollars and guns will do it. It was done in Greece. Of the $3,984 millions aid to Greece, 1944 to 1964, 53.7% went to the military, 21.4% for public investment and production, 18.5% for budget deficit, 3.3% for US agricultural surplus, and 3.1% for the US mission expenses (Jon Kofas, 1989, 176).The Greek masses were on their own. They immigrated.
The costs of militarism in the world, from the end of World War II to the 1990s, were $15 trillion ($l trillion = $1,000 billions), 1/2 ($7.5 trillion) spent by the United States, 1/4 ($3.75 trillion) by the Soviet Union/Russia, and 1/4 ($3.75 trillion) by the rest of the world. This money is still dripping with blood, of innocent young men, women, and children.
The invasion of Iraq is fresh in our minds. It was US dollars ($5 billion) which sustained the Saddam Hussein war machinery against Iran in the 1980s. Washington, London, Paris, and Moscow provided the material for Saddam’ s biological and chemical weapons. The result: the 1st and 2nd Gulf wars. The invasion costs are $80 billions. Billions are needed to build roads, bridges, buildings, power plants, schools, and hospitals. Iraqi oil is still paying for the 1st Gulf war. Iraqi oil will cover the costs of this invasion and the reconstruction.
The benefits to the Iraqis? They will be taught American democratic ideals and the ideas of Adam Smith. If we put aside the thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded, the Anglo-Americans killed or wounded, and a country bombed to the stone age, we can take a closer look at our modern political economy and war. In the 1950s I was told in school to duck under the desk if the USSR dropped an atomic bomb on us. And asbestos was safe for humans. It was used on boilers, walls, and shingles. The production and use of asbestos boosted the economy. It created jobs.
Asbestos proved to be carcinogenic. Schools were closed. The clean-up service and the treating of asbestos cancer patients (doctors, hospitals, medicine, even funerals) made the GNP grow. It was all good. The use of hormones, pesticides, and bio-genetic engineering in food production was also good, big profits and jobs. So were the ill effects on our lives and medical treatment required to make us well.
It is the same with all forms of crime, pornography, and prostitution, but this will do. Billions of dollars are harvested from such vices. The war on these vices creates jobs, and keeps unemployment down. SUVs? We need access to oil, and wars to drive these gas guzzlers. That is why all the oil producing countries are trouble spots.
The alternative to this creative destruction is increased unemployment, diminished buying power, bankruptcies, financial markets in trouble, recessions, depressions, revolutions. Wars are not only good for the economy, they are also weapons of mass destruction. If problems arise from our market economy we can blame the government, the usual scapegoat.
We vote the bums out and get new ones, who offer the same solutions, but in a purer market form. The market has the Midas touch. Vices, crime, lies, and wars produce big profits, for Bechtel (Schultz), Halliburton (Cheney), Boeing, Carlyle Group (Bushes), etc. A missile costs $1 million. Smart bombs, war ships, tanks, trucks, uniforms, food, and propaganda cost billions. It is great profits for the military-industrial complex. Profits are private, for the corporations. The costs are socialized, for us, the people. War is big business, its profitable!
George Gregoriou is a Professor of Critical Theory & Geopolitics at the William Paterson College in New Jersey.