what i'm watching: why we fight, part 2

Last night we watched the DVD extras on "Why We Fight". I highly recommend, even if you've seen the movie, seeing it again on DVD to watch the extras.

One jaw-dropping highlight was the revelation of "The Missing C". Eisenhower originally called the Military Industrial Complex the "Military Industrial Congressional Complex". He removed the word "Congressional" from the final draft of his famous farewell address so as not to offend anyone in Congress. Stunning.

This in turn reminded me of something I meant to blog in my earlier post but forgot. When I said "In a country where there are no jobs, the military looks increasingly attractive," I meant also to include members of Congress who approve military appropriations that benefit their districts by generating jobs.

A piece of the B1 bomber is famously constructed in every state in the US, thus assuring that Congress will always approve its funding. That fight for jobs in home districts must also be seen against the backdrop of the depressed economy. So not only are Americans pushed into the military by their lack of options, the military budget gets an enormous and essential boost from that same lack of jobs. Not much incentive to fix the economy, is there?

Another riveting piece was Chalmers Johnson discussing his transformation from CIA cold warrior to a man squarely in opposition to the military industrial Congressional complex. Johnson says he always regarded the Soviet Union as a genuine threat. Then (I'm paraphrasing, but this is very nearly a direct quote), "In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the excuse for the massive military was gone. I expected a much bigger peace dividend, but almost immediately the government went around trying to find a replacement enemy. This raised the question, was the cold war really just a cover?"

A replacement enemy. It's what we've been saying all along. Yesterday communism, today terrorism. Same massive corporate boondoggle, new excuse.

This goes to something else I'm forever saying. I'm frankly amazed when people call the war in Iraq a failure. It's a failure only if you believe the US government's propaganda about their objectives. If you believe, as I do, that the stated objectives - which changed constantly! - were only excuses to sell a war that was planned long ago, the goal of which is corporate profit and personal gain, then the occupation has been a spectacular success. And it will continue to be far into the future. There are already nine permanent US bases in Iraq. They're not leaving any time soon.

Other DVD extras were equally fascinating: Eugene Jarecki on The Daily Show, in which Jon Stewart notes that President Eisenhower "would be Dennis Kucinich today" - that's how far to the right the US has shifted; Jarecki speaking with audiences after screenings of the film, including a very moving talk with high school students; and the chilling expression "hobby war".

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