Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Business of War

Jeannette Rankin put it in the simplest terms: “War is a crime.” The League of Nations agreed. The Kellogg-Briand Pact declared war was illegal in 1928. There were no ifs, ands, or buts. The League did not add, “except on Tuesdays.” Several millennia ago a holy man came down from a mountain with some words engraved on a couple of stone tablets. It was a set of rules. These were not guidelines or mere suggestions, “for your consideration.” They were Commandments. There were 10. Number 5 said, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Someone realized how hard that would be for us, that we needed an absolute or ten to follow, to point the way. Another man came along to make it simpler still. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Ten Commandments down to one golden rule. How much simpler can it get? “War is a crime.” There is no gray area here. There are no extenuating circumstances. In human law, perhaps, there are; in societal configurations, perhaps, there are ways to equivocate, excuse, allow, even promote breaking the higher rule. “Render unto Caesar” can be seen to mean a man has to serve his earthly masters while preparing for his heavenly one. I don’t think so, not when the earthly master demands actions contrary to one’s heart-felt beliefs. But that’s just me. And that me is disappointed in how little we have progressed from the time Moses came down Mount Sinai. I look at America and I see a warrior nation. Militarism is rampant, far beyond a sense of honor to our soldiers. I look at our history and I see that militarism looks back at me from every corner of our past. I just finished a study of the Plains Indian Wars, where Manifest Destiny dictated – or excused – the destruction of a culture that stood in the way of what we wanted. Manifest Destiny still exists in our hearts. We still think it is our burden and duty to make the world safe for democracy. In the bargain we are exporting our military around the world, and somehow we feel righteous in doing so. We spend seven hundred billion dollars a year on our military. The second highest military budget (2008 figures) belongs to China, at 122 Billion. I keep asking myself, why do we need so much hardware? I know it isn’t to protect our borders. I also know that standing armies are next to useless against insurgencies and terrorists. War is a crime. It is also big business. It is America’s business, make no mistake.

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