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America’s gods: Money, Materialism, and Militarism,

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Message Lonna Van Horn
-- originally written in the spring of 2003, but now with talk of our leaders' intent to make war on Iran, it is more true than it was even then

In America our motto is "In God we trust," but what do our self-professed Christian leaders and most Americans really trust to keep us safe? Is it God, or is it the superiority of our weapons in both their number and in their power? Is it God, or is it our ability and eagerness to make war, our unequalled capacity to kill and destroy?

I had a dear friend years ago, a pastor who said that everyone has a god. It is what they believe will do them the most good. In America our motto is "In God we trust," but in America, as in perhaps no other nation on earth, what we really believe will do us the most good is money, and we lust after money above all else.

And as a nation what is our god? What do we believe will do us the most good? What will keep us safe? It is not God, it is the superiority of our weapons in both their number and in their power; It is our ability to make war.

This is in no way a Christian concept. Our weapons did not prevent 9/11, they may very well have provoked it. In the Bible David slew Goliath, but in the world today, we are the Goliath.

Osama bin Laden became an enemy when we built bases and launched a war from his country, Saudi Arabia. It was placing our weapons in his country that made him determined to strike us.

Vietnam veteran Father Roy Bourgeios who was imprisoned for pouring blood on the sign for the School of the Americas where we train soldiers from other nations to kill, quoted someone in saying "We have never had more weapons, and we have never felt less safe." We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars bombing two countries and making them desolate, yet we are no more safe now than we were before all the bombing began, and perhaps less so, yet with all our firepower, Osama bin Laden continues to elude us. This should say something about the efficacy of war in solving the problems of the world. And once again we have murdered the children of the world. In retribution their fathers will murder our children (soldiers) left there to protect them.

We have removed an evil dictator, but evil does not disappear from a country because one powerful evil man is gone. A dozen smaller evil men will jockey to take his place and chaos, not the people, will be the winner.

As Dr. Charles Merceica wrote, "Weapons are not made for defense, they are made for profit."

President Eisenhower warned of the danger of the influence of the military industrial complex. He said its misplaced power and influence had the potential to be disastrous. He was afraid the interests of weapons manufacturers would affect public policy decisions such as the decision to go to war.

Manufacturing and selling the weapons of death and destruction are a huge part of our economy today, which require war to sustain them. Through their unholy connections with defense contractors, many of the people in the administration will benefit financially from the sale of those weapons of death either directly or indirectly, and from the rebuilding of the country we destroyed. The money for the Republican war-mongers' 2004 run for the White House was funded in large part by contributions from the profits made by the companies who benefited from the two "wars" we just fought.

In spite of Christ's admonitions against materialism and the love of money, if there is one thing that is a marker of this administration, it is greed.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a hero in Germany who was executed for resisting the Nazis, said: "The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." The tax cuts enacted by this administration and this Congress guarantee our children will suffer so that those at the top can acquire ever more untaxed wealth.

President Eisenhower also decried the waste of money used in the building of weapons when he believed it could be put to much better use. He said "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people"This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Eisenhower said that "total, unilateral disarmament is the imperative of our time." He had also been against using the atomic bomb against Japan. He did not think it had been necessary, and he had not wanted America to be remembered as the first nation to use such a "horrible" weapon.

Yet we know our current leaders, none of whom know anything about the devastation of war first-hand, are developing new nuclear weapons, and, according to recent reports, are angering members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by insisting on keeping the option of using nuclear "bunker buster" bombs against Iran on the table.

General Smedley D. Butler said "War is a racket" conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the very many"of course it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and 'we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,' but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket and are safely pocketed." He said: "I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to defend some lousy investment of the bankers. We should fight only for the defense of our home and the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket"I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business"In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. War is a racket."

And General Omar Bradley said: "Wars can be prevented just as surely as they can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent them must share the guilt for the dead."

Eisenhower did not believe in a "preventative" war, but if any nation would have been justified in launching what Bush called a "preemptive war" against another nation because it faced the liklihood of a potential attack by a country known to have stockpiles of "weapons of mass destruction," that nation would have been Iraq, and now Iran as well.

Fortunately, Iraq did not have the capability to launch a war against the United States, the country that, instead, launched a war against it. Iran has a greater capacity to inflict damage upon the American war machine than did Iraq, but people from either Iraq or Iran can certainly commit acts of terrorism against Americans wherever Americans may travel in the world.

Indeed, analysts suggest that if we do strike Iran such acts of terrorism against Americans will become much more common. More people will hate us because of those attacks, and hate is what drives violence. Plus gasoline prices will spike upwards immediately and dramatically.

Would anyone care to estimate the number of barrels of oil that have been wasted in waging the wars we have already fought "for oil?"

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Lonna Gooden VanHorn was born and raised on a small farm in Minnesota. She is the mother of 6, a grandmother, and the wife of a Vietnam veteran.

Formerly a person who did not "get involved" in controversy, the constant lies and deceit of the Bush administration have motivated her to become a trouble maker in her old age.

Archives of some of her articles may be accessed "here" (more...)

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