When Donald Rumsfeld set about to “modernize” and reduce the size of the US military, he was actually working to more fully privatize and monetize the US military. As taxpayers, what we get is less bang for the buck, literally.
The direct costs of the Iraq war are well over 442 billion dollars to date, and this figure does not include veterans care or benefits, lifetime medical costs for seriously inured and maimed troops, mental health care, re-equipping the military and repairing damaged equipment, the construction and maintenance of massive, permanent military complexes all over Iraq, and unaccountable future “blowback costs” associated with increased anti-US violence and terrorism. It also does not include hidden costs (black ops, covert initiatives, bribes to foreign officials, etc.), of which we know little or nothing other than they are certainly adding significantly to the overall costs of the occupation of Iraq.
Despite these huge costs, our military remains under-equipped, under-trained and over-extended. How could this be the case with the United States military - the largest, most far-reaching and expensive military system ever assembled in the history of the world? How is it that military families have to organize local bake sales to raise enough money to get flack-jackets, helmet liners and even air conditioners to their sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan? How could it be that our military personnel have to rummage through dumps to find additional armor to bolt to their humvees?
This is the another in a long line of neo-con con-jobs on the American people. The US spends more taxpayer dollars on the military than all other nations combined, but where does all that money go? Powerful people are getting very rich on the war and occupation at both the troop’s, and taxpayer’s expense.
The neo-cons will keep attacking the Democrats for “not supporting the troops” if they cut off the Halliburton gravy train, while all the time stifling military concerns about over-deployments, under-equipment, and the unaccountability of military contractors who are creating new enemies in Iraq much faster than we can deal with them.
The fact of the matter is that Iraq is the most “for-profit” war that the US has ever engaged in, and it was accomplished with the foreknowledge and direct complicity of the members of the Cheney secret energy task force (the oil companies, and major military suppliers). However, the Iraqi government, as weak and compliant as they are, have so far refused to pass the oil-sharing legislation handed to them by Cheney. This puts a bit of a monkey wrench into Cheney’s plans for unfettered access to, and enormous profits from Iraqi oil. But nonetheless, the profits continue to pour into Halliburton, and all the other military contractors.
When you shift the US military from a government run operation into a private, for-profit organization, you will end up short-changing the troops in order to boost the bottom line. It’s the same logic as when you privatize schools, FEMA, health care, or any other critical government function. The profit motive bleeds the system until it no longer functions properly, while costs skyrocket. Profits soar as functionality and accountability decline.
If we are going to use corporate metaphors to frame the issue, then We the People constitute millions of board members and investors for our government. We pay the taxes that make the system run, and we decide who the next chairman of the board is.
It is high time that We the Board Members of the United States government push to fire the CEO, and his CFO, Dick Cheney, and take the country back from the huge multinational corporations. It is time to stop spending our national treasure on foreign wars, and instead use it to rebuild our schools and the national infrastructure. We need to keep constant pressure on the Congress to end the Iraq war, and to de-privatize our military. We need to de-privatize the entire government. In a nutshell, we need to rapidly undo the neo-con con-job of monetizing our government for the benefit of a small handful of corporate executives. It is time to end the Bush/Cheney corporatocracy. Maybe then, military family bake sales will become a thing of the past.
Note added after Bush News Conference, 11:30am.
President Bush held a morning press conference, and when asked about low public support for continuing the occupation of Iraq, he warned the US public to avoid “war fatigue”. In other words, Americans need to shrug off that “war fatigue”, and get with the program. He then discussed the long term nature of the war in Iraq.
That should be enough to demonstrate that they want endless war, and military-industrial profits in perpetuity.