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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/29/10

Another $9 Billion for This, Sarah Palin? Six Children Killed in NATO Attack, While Picking Trash

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It's not so much what we're paying, it's what we're getting for it, and Glen Beck/Sarah Palin's Nuremberg rally this weekend to show support for "our men and women in uniform," as Palin said, is about as sure a sign as you'll get that this is nowhere near over unless we speak up and let the politicians know this does not represent the nation.

Conflating the troops with the wars is the first deception of fascism, as if the troops had any say in where they're going. But the people who run Palin know something else. In a dumbed-down nation, where you can't afford schools and such, it works. I once heard famed criminal attorney Vince Bugliosi say about the political genius of Bush/Rove, it doesn't matter if you can't fool all the people all the time. You only have to fool enough of them, enough of the time.

Last January General Barry McCaffrey put the "burn rate" of the amount of money we'd be spending on military operations in Afghanistan by this summer at about $9 billion a month. If that was buying me real security, I guess I wouldn't complain. What it's buying instead is wave after wave of disgust around the world as news like this hits the Internet:


In eastern Kunar province, a mountainous region known to be a Taliban stronghold, a police commander told AFP that six children were killed in an air raid aimed at quelling a Taliban attack.

Provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee said a group of children were collecting scrap metal on the mountain when NATO aircraft dropped bombs to disperse Taliban fighters attacking a nearby base.

To put that in context, nine-bill is about a third of the average yearly state budget, about half if you exclude California and New York. This is for ONE MONTH of military operations in Afghanistan. This comes at a time when Glen Greenwald reports, in his frightening piece "What a Collapsing Empire Looks Like":

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further -- it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation.

Other cities have coped differently, Clayton County, Ga., for example, shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

And in Colorado Springs, they are literally returning to the Dark Ages: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.

Meanwhile, Greenwald reports, the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest -- the ones who caused these problems in the first place, continue to thrive.

Why does it keep happening? It's simple. Because war is a racket, as double Medal of Honor winner turned one of the first veterans for peace, General Smedley Butler, said just after World War I. The anniversary edition of his book and speeches is out, ringing a thousand times truer than they ever did. Butler wrote:

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. 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 very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

Who perpetuates this racket? Here is the roll-call of congresscritters who voted last June to pass the latest chunk of money which buys the $100,000 bombs and missiles which were dropped on those children, plus the fuel contracts for the fighter planes, plus replacement costs for anything that happens to get damaged or doesn't work. As far as rackets go, this one is money hand over fist. And there are nearly as many Democratic warmongers as Republican. Part of the money from this racket comes back to them in the form of campaign contributions.

Here is the list of racketeers both Democrat and Republican. You might be surprised at some of the names who voted "yea" (for more war funding) on this list. They are home now. Get yer camcorder, make an appointment to ask them to explain their vote, and put that sucker on Youtube for all the good folks in the district.


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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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