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View Diary: The House Gets Into the Act (148 comments)

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  •  Don't Forget (4.00)
    The House Committee on Un-American Activities of 1934 (I think) which revealed a plot by US corporations such as Remington Arms and Dow Chemical plotted to oust FDR, a plot that was thwarted by former Marine General Smedley Butler.

    Smedley Butler also wrote the essay "War is a Racket." Old Smedley was a hell of a soldier, a hell of an American and a hell of a guy.

    •  Beware of the Military Industrial Complex? n/t (none)

      Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. --Will Rogers

      by groggy on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 09:36:48 PM PST

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      •  Sort of (none)
        The Military-Industrial complex as I understand it was a byproduct of WW2. In the attempted coup of 1934, the corporations tried to get General Butler to back them and bring them the support of the American Legion. But Smedley turned them in instead.

        The military is not one of my favorite institutions -- not by a long shot -- but it does seem to attract or even create some men (and women) of great honor.

      •  Did you know (none)
        that when Eisenhower originally penned his farewell speech, he wrote of the Military/Industrial/Congressional complex?

        Apparently, when he recovered from whatever pique he suffered that caused such blatant honesty, he scaled back the appellation to Military/Industrial complex.

        (-5.25, -7.95) "Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price." - Joan Didion

        by SueDe on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 10:08:56 PM PST

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        •  Yup (none)
          I knew about it, and to people who know how our government works, it's also basically implied. Congress has to first authorize the funds that make the Military-Industrial complex possible. And, of course, the president then has to sign the resulting bills. I guess that Military/Industrial/Congressional/Executive Complex was too much of a mouthful.
    •  "War Is A Racket" is well worth reading (none)
      A copy is here

      Some excerpts:

      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.
      But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?

      What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

      Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

      Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.

      It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people -- who do not profit.
      Who provides the profits -- these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them -- in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us -- the people -- got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par -- and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

      But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

      If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men -- men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

      Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

      Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.
      I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.

      Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

      In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

      Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?


      This was written before WW2. Yet it seems eerily prescient even today.

      "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

      by bewert on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:12:55 AM PST

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