Left Justified: Happy Fourth of July and third year of war

“War is as outmoded as cannibalism, chattel slavery, blood-feuds, and dueling, an insult to God and humanity…a daily crucifixion of Christ.”—Muriel Lester

The war drags on, and we’re not winning. Our commander-in-chief went after the second-largest pool of oil in the world, alienated every other civilized country, and used the armed forces in a personal vendetta to depose a tinhorn dictator who threatened his father. The troops were led into a sandy quagmire that makes Vietnam look like a police action (which it was).

And our Congressman, Don Manzullo, is even worse when it comes to supporting that mess. He could be speaking out against that war, trying to persuade his party to change course and save some lives for a change. Instead, he’s advocating a widening of the war to take on Iran and Syria (“as long as we have the troops over there, might as well fight them now as later,” he seems to say).

There are lots of reasons to be concerned about the war on terrorism. The bombings in Europe and Indonesia show terrorists are still willing to kill innocent civilians. That’s not carte blanche for democratic governments to mount wars and kill more innocent civilians. What’s needed is investigatory detective work, take time and energy to track down the individual perpetrators (remember Osama?).

If there are conditions in the world that foster terrorism, then those conditions should be changed. It’s worked successfully in the past. The Irish problem was alleviated by the application of civil rights, a fair voting procedure and more autonomous rule. South Africa was ready to explode in civil and racial war when cooler heads prevailed. Lessons were learned in Yugoslavia, which are presently being ignored. And really, the only way leaders will take notice is when people take to the streets.

But, if you were an astute financial forecaster, you took your money out of medicines, solar energy, water filters and put it into Star Wars, Halliburton and the military-industrial complex (MIC on the big board?).

Because of the last two presidential elections, a lot of people made a lot of money on the fourth horseman of the apocalypse. No more namby-pamby social welfare programs and stuff that makes people’s lives better. Instead, buy big-ticket items such as atom bombs, tanks, B-1 bombers and, of course, the flying boondoggle of all pork barrels, Star Wars (yes, they still want to make it work, and no, it still doesn’t work).

The economy started to go into the toilet about the same time George W. got nominated. Back then, investors hedged their bets.

If I had $1 billion in the stock market, I’d have hedged my bet, too. As soon as the election was over, all my money would have gone to such outstanding companies as TRW (no, I still don’t know what that stands for), McDonnell-Douglas, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon.

The returns on military investments are still going to be great. Of course, everything else is in the toilet. But, hey—that’s what America’s all about.

Even though the government could stimulate the economy better by spending on education, medical care and housing (the military budget funds fewer workers than any other sector of the economy—you can hire four schoolteachers for every one defense contractor), but guess what our tax dollars are funding?

So the economy now sucks. Tax cuts help the rich buy fine art, yachts and pleasure trips to the Bahamas, and I’m stocking up on rice and beans.

As a veteran, I know that soldiers in the field want peace more than anyone else. I also know they will follow their orders even though it may seem hopeless, ridiculous, foolish and downright stupid. But I also know that this democracy allows for the expression of dissenting viewpoints, and right now a lot of people dissent on the present war. Time to get us a new Congressman.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the July 5-11, 2006, issue

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