News about civilian casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries where US military forces are involved takes us back to the Vietnam War. Makes us ask: how stupid are our leaders?
A relevant question as we end this year and begin a new one.
2017 saw the airing of Ken Burns’ PBS series “The Vietnam War.” It leaves no doubt that massive air strikes, bombings and napalm that killed civilians turned the citizenry against the US. Even those people whom we purported to be helping grew to hate our presence in their country. Our military commanders and political leaders came to understand that we were so despised by the Vietnamese – including our allies in the South – that ultimately, we could not win and had to get out. Perhaps more than anything else, it was the killing of civilians that brought about the US’s ignominious defeat.
Yet, here we ago again! The numbers are debated, but the fact is that our drones, planes, missiles, bombs and on-the-ground soldiers are killing thousands of innocent civilians throughout the Middle East.
Although estimates vary, even the most conservative suggest that for every civilian killed at least ten more people turn against the US. Disillusioned by Washington, they look to others – ISIS, China, Russia. Not only are we losing another war (wars), we are also strengthening the very people we profess to oppose.
Are our leaders really that stupid? Or is there another motive?
There is a great deal of talk these days about cutting back on Big Government and trying to balance the budget. Strikingly absent from such talk is the simple fact that Big Government’s most impressive office is the Pentagon and the most effective budgetary items to cut are the incredibly wasteful amounts spent on military equipment and strategies that fail to accomplish the goals and instead turn millions of people against us.
Washington’s recently passed 2018 military budget was touted as $700 billion; however, it actually surpasses $800 billion when relevant sections of the State and Energy Departments and intelligence agencies are included. This is bigger than the combined military budgets of the next seven – nine (depending on how it is measured) largest countries. (1)
Where does that money go? Who profits from these expenditures? How many of our elected officials own stock in Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and the other merchants of death, as well as the banks and Wall Street firms that finance them? (2)
You, Ken Burns, and I may think that we lost the Vietnam War. But investors in war profiteering corporations came to a different conclusion. They did then and they do now.
How stupid are they?