Memorial Day and the War Economy

Speakout at the War Economy Encampment, Boston Common, May 28-29. 2018
Speakout at the War Economy Encampment, Boston Common, May 28-29. 2018

Remarks delivered at the Veterans War Economy Encampment, May 29, 2018.  Watch this talk on video: Part 1 and Part 2 

We all know that most of the giant corporations that dominate the economy pay few if any taxes. That means that we the people pay. The taxes we pay represent collectively a great part of the labor we expend, the work we do in the total economy. That means those companies that make up the Military Industrial Complex, an unholy union of banks, industries and hedge funds, are parasites because the government contracts they receive are paid for by our taxes and they return little if anything in return. We are told that all is done in the name of “national security” but the reality is that militarism endangers us

Most of these companies would cease to exist overnight if it were not for America’s permanent state of war… And make no mistake every war since 1945 , every one, has been a war of choice not necessity, totally unnecessary war. wars of choice. GE,  Raytheon, General Dynamics,  Honeywell, MIT, Harvard  and too many others to count stay afloat by relying on permanent production for permanent war? Massachusetts ranks 9th overall in Department of Defense contracts to companies like these.

Most of you have never heard of Charles Wilson. He was the oligarch of the General Electric company when President Franklin Roosevelt made him the Czar of war production during World War II. As the war ended, and many of the giant companies that had come into existence to make weapons faced bankruptcy he declared that what the country needed was a “permanent war economy.”

I think you’ve noticed that we have been permanently at war somewhere on this planet since 1945. Korea, Vietnam, Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan are only the most obvious. What Wilson neglected to say was that the permanent war economy could be justified only by having permanent enemies. I repeat. None of the wars the United States has waged in the last 73 years has been necessary. Like our weapons we manufacture our enemies.

 Today the U.S. has more than 800 military bases or installations across the globe, all of them connected to this infernal complex and today warhawks like John Bolton and Lindsey Graham and others in power are itching to attack Korea, Syria and Iran, which will brings us closer to the abyss of World War III.

The only policy of the Obama Administration that Trump has left intact is the decision to improve and extend U.S. nuclear missile capabilities at the cost of $1.2 trillion. At this moment American forces and nuclear capabilities are literally on the borders of Russia and China. We are engaged in a global arms race like the one that gave us World Wars I and II.

About 20 million died in the first global war, 100 million in the second. Those who survive the coming Third World War will curse the day they were born.

The cold hard fact is that these corporate vampires who dominate the war economy are sucking the lifeblood of our society while simultaneously drowning in blood many innocent people overseas while promoting the conditions for World War III. Since 1945 trillions of dollars have poured into their coffers that could fund Medicare for all, free higher education, public jobs and critical housing programs that would actually contribute to the public good. Just last week reports surfaced that the Pentagon cannot account for 21 trillion dollars. Much of this money has undoubtedly been funneled into covert operations of which even Congress is unaware. But then we know that Congress, both parties, is in thrall to the Military Industrial complex and has long since abandoned genuine concern for the welfare of mere citizens. We have allowed this to occur and only we can change these dire circumstances.

As veterans for peace we know only too well the deadly consequences of militarism and warfare. That is why we are here today. We must decide. Embrace the Death Star or repudiate the war machine . As I tell my students at UMass Boston constantly- as long as nuclear weapons continue to exist sooner or later…sooner or later…they WILL be used. Meanwhile we allow weapons companies to earn billions of dollars in profits derived from our taxes that are only hastening our day of reckoning.

 We in Veterans For Peace embrace our allies in the struggle to demilitarize our society, allies like Code Pink, Don’t Bank on the Bomb, Mass Peace Action, The American Friends Service Committee, Nuclear Ban U.S., and the International Committee to Abolish Nuclear Weapons who all agree that we must begin the process of divestment from this albatross of a permanent war economy around our collective necks. We urge our fellow citizens to divest any investments they may have from these war mongers but above all we ask you to join us in demanding that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts divest the state retirement system from the war machine. The Major General Smedley D. Butler Brigade is now reaching out to allies to coalesce around this necessary process of divestment before it is too late.