Ike Was Right
by Robert Scheer
www.truthdig.com, December 26,
The public, seeing through the tissue
of Bush administration lies told to justify an invasion that never
had anything to do with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 or weapons
of mass destruction, now has begun a national questioning: Why
are we still in Iraq? The answers posted most widely on the Internet
by critics of the war suggest its continuation as a naked imperial
grab for the world's second-largest petroleum source, but that
It's not primarily about the oil; it's
much more about the military-industrial complex, the label employed
by President Dwight D. Eisenhower 45 years ago when he warned
of the dangers of "a permanent arms industry of vast proportions."
The Cold War had provided the rationale
for the first peacetime creation of a militarized economy. While
the former general, Eisenhower, was well aware of the military
threat posed by the Soviet Union, he chose in his farewell presidential
address to the nation to warn that the war profiteers had an agenda
of their own, one that was inimical to the survival of American
"In the councils of government, we
must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether
sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential
for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Ponder those words as you consider the
predominant presence of former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney in
the councils of this White House, and how his old company has
profiteered more than any other from the disaster that is Iraq.
Despite having been found to have overcharged some $60 million
to the U.S. military for fuel deliveries, the formerly bankrupt
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root continues to receive
hundreds of millions of dollars in lucrative contracts.
There is more. Military spending has skyrocketed
since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, returning to Cold War levels.
A devastating report by the Center for Defense Information, founded
by former top-ranking admirals and generals, reveals that in the
most recent federal budget overall defense spending will rise
to more than $550 billion. Compare that to the $20 billion that
the United Nations and all of its agencies and funds spend each
year on all of its programs to make this a safer and more livable
That U.S. military budget exceeds what
the rest of the world's nations combined spend on defense. Nor
can it be justified as militarily necessary to counter terrorists,
who used primitive $10 box cutters to commandeer civilian aircraft
on 9/11. It only makes sense as a field of dreams for defense
contractors and their allies in Washington who seized upon the
9/11 tragedy to invent a new Cold War. Imagine their panic at
the end of the old one and their glee at this newfound opportunity.
Yes, some in those circles were also eager
to exploit Iraq's oil wealth, which does explain the abysmal indifference
to the deteriorating situation in resource-poor Afghanistan, birthplace
of the Sept. 11 plot, while our nation's resources are squandered
in occupying Iraq, which had nothing to do with it.
Yes, some, like Paul Wolfowitz, the genius
who was the No. 2 in the U.S. Defense Department and has been
rewarded for his leadership with appointment as head of the World
Bank, did argue that Iraq's oil revenue would pay for our imperial
adventure. A recent study by Nobel Prize-wining economist Joseph
E. Stiglitz and Harvard University's Linda Bilmes marked that
absurdity by estimating the true cost of the Iraq adventure to
U.S taxpayers at a whopping $2.267 trillion, in excess of any
cost borne by the Iraqis themselves.
The big prize here for Bush's foreign
policy is not the acquisition of natural resources or the enhancement
of U.S. security, but rather the lining of the pockets of the
defense contractors, the merchants of death who mine our treasury.
But because the arms industry is coddled by political parties
and the mass media, their antics go largely unnoticed. Our politicians
and pundits argue endlessly about a couple of billion dollars
that may be spent on improving education or ending poverty, but
they casually waste that amount in a few days in Iraq.
As Eisenhower warned: "We should
take nothing for granted, only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry
can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military
machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that
security and liberty may prosper together. ... We want democracy
to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent
phantom of tomorrow."
Too bad we no longer have leading Republicans,
or Democrats, warning of that danger.