Back in the age when slavery was deemed acceptable by many people, it was no doubt more widely and readily accepted by slave owners and those in the numerous businesses that financially profited from it. I imagine that shipping businesses that profited from transporting slaves were deemed vital and in the national interest, and that there were pamphlets written to show that exploiting slaves and building ships to transport them were beneficial in every respect – so long as everyone involved looked away from the inherently evil nature of slavery. And so it is today with the business of weaponry and war.
It is no surprise that the defense industry spends considerable time and money lobbying on its own behalf to sell the instruments of war. Nor is it much of a surprise that Navy Admirals openly yet illegally lobby for the defense industry. It is disappointing, however, to see academics join the effort.
In A benefit, not a burden, a 75-page study by Andrew Dorman, Matthew Uttley and Benedict Wilkinson published in April by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, the authors cite Oxford Economics reports to support their claim that soaking money into the defense industry has a gross output multiplier of 2.3, meaning that every £100 million invested in the industry would generate £230 million (including the original £100 million investment) in the UK economy. Relying on the same reports, the study adds that “for each additional job created in the manufacturing component of the defence industry a further 1.8 jobs are created in the wider economy, giving a headcount multiplier of 2.8 jobs.” Hmm.
Although it is noted that the gross output multiplier effect of 2.3 ranked 12th in a sample of 27 and that the job multiplier effect of 2.8 ranked 10th out of the industries analysed, the Policy Institute study nonetheless concludes that “the UK’s defence industry should therefore be a priority area for investment due to the overall return.” (Emphasis added.) Those numbers look suspicious to me. However, I leave that to the number crunchers and economists to sort out. Other aspects of the study concern me a great deal more.
In introducing their study, the UK scholars cite the use of its armed forces in the invasion of Iraq as having been in the “national interest,” apparently overlooking research done by their university’s research partner Ipsos MORI two years ago which concluded that the invasion had “damaged Britain’s reputation in the world” and impacted negatively on global stability. This and the damning fact that UK leadership knew to a certainty that the US was fixing the intelligence and facts to garner support for its 2003 invasion of Iraq go unmentioned in the recent study, hinting at an obviously biased perspective confirmed elsewhere.
The Kings College London scholars observe that exporting arms to other states “can have adverse unintended consequences” and cite as an example the fact that Iran turned against the West after the UK had supplied the Shah with arms. Unmentioned is the fact that Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran was a dictator the US and UK restored to power after facilitating a coup against the country’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The apologia for the UK’s war machine and the industry behind it casually notes that 67% (£9.8 billion worth) of the UK’s defense industry orders in 2013 were from the Middle East. Unmentioned are the horrific consequences of the UK and US flooding the Middle East with weapons.
War and threats of war are indeed “a benefit, not a burden” to certain shareholders and bankers, just not to the vast majority of people – a simple fact we should have deeply assimilated long ago.
After World War I, people eventually learned that the horrific madness that war entailed had in part been spawned by the quest for profits. In his pamphlet War is a Racket, career solder and Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, a man who was twice bestowed the US Congressional Medal of Honor, detailed the war profiteering he abetted over the years, and a Senate Committee headed up by Gerald Nye concluded that the arms industry had encouraged the promotion of tension-creating policies before the war and made massive profits during it.
A century later, war-inspiring capitalism is much the same. Over the past two years in Europe, BAE Systems’ stock went up approximately 27%; Airbus Group’s and Thales’ stock jumped 42% and 56% respectively; and Finmeccanica’s skyrocketed 150%. And, of course, in recent years US defense industry profits have also soared.
Typical of the manner in which US foreign policy is conducted, the United States’ exploitation of tensions in the South China Sea most recently involved hosting an arms sales meeting at the Embassy in Vietnam (during which US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter pledged millions of dollars’ worth of patrol boats to the country, no doubt hoping to entice Vietnam to buy the warplanes, ships, and drones on its shopping list from US manufacturers, representatives of which were also in attendance).
Yes, in the war business, making a killing is routine; but that’s a story to be pursued another day. War profiteering is another subject the Policy Institute pamphlet did not find important enough even to mention despite its persistence and the severe problems it naturally breeds.
To portray the war industry as “a benefit, not a burden” is to use a metaphor that conceptually frames the industry such that it negatively impacts cognition by causing readers to mentally skip over war itself and therefore ignore such vital matters as the health impact of war on both civilians and soldiers and on Earth’s flora and fauna as well. These are not trivial concerns to be ignored or explained away.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported a 95 %+ probability that human activities have accelerated global warming due primarily to the emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels; yet, as professional energy analyst Dr. Sohbet Karbuz and others have noted, the US military is the largest consumer of energy in the world. (It consumes as much energy and emits as much CO2 as Nigeria, a country with a population of around 175 million people.)
That is the kind of energy it takes to garrison the planet, a fruitless enterprise certain to backfire yet which the UK has apparently decided to embrace as it exercises imperial muscle once again in tandem with persistent US overreach.
When an evil persists for very long, people become habituated to it, and, over time, its presence becomes so deeply embedded in our subconscious that many lose sight of it until given a clear reminder. This is intended to be that reminder, one we must not lose sight of: War is the gravest of all moral concerns. It is akin to human slavery and is the ultimate sabotage and maximum barbarity. It is an evil in need of restraint, not a positive good that warrants fueling. Not at all.
Born and raised a Quaker, Nile Stanton is an instructor at the University of New England at its campus in Tangier, Morocco. He taught for twenty years at U.S. military bases in Spain, Italy, Bosnia, and (mostly) Greece, as well as online to troops in Europe and Asia. His signature course was on “Law, Morality, and War.”
28 thoughts on “War, Like Slavery, Sabotages Humanity”
Economics is a particularly precarious and far-fetched pile of arbitrary abstractions, whose formidable armoury of equations and graphs should not fool us into believing it accurately describes reality. On the contrary, its very opacity makes it an ideal tool for convincing the masses that certain propositions MUST be true. “Because economics says so” is very similar to the notoriously absurd “Because the computer says so”. Or Euler’s famous demand of Diderot: “Sir, (a+b^n)/n=x, therefore God exists: reply!”
If we have the courage of common sense, we can pile all the foolish equations and graphs in a cupboard, and reflect that weapons of war – still more war itself – cannot represent true prosperity. War destroys real wealth at an unbelievable rate – how long will it be before Iraq is rebuilt to the level of prosperity and safety it has in 2001? Even waging war is so enormously expensive that it is said that no real democracy can afford to fight a war any more. As for the manufacture of weapons and its supposed multiplier effect: if the money can be made available to create such horrible, destructive things, why cannot that same money be used to create schools, hospitals, universities, computer networks, libraries, and nurseries?
Two brief remarks: 1.) in looking at your c.v. I was fascinated by the course you were teaching to (presumably) US military personnel overseas. I assume the gist of your teaching was NOT that recent US military adventures (abetted by the UK’s military, etc.) have been morally justified. I reckon the real decision makers were not among your students; 2.) I looked at CNN’s distillation of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and I have to say it appears to be the most remarkable document to come out of the Vatican in my lifetime. But again, the real decision makers will pay it no heed. They worship but one god, the one called Mammon. They are inherently incapable of grasping the irony of burning huge amounts of polluting fossil fuels in order to power their War Machine as it attempts to secure…more fossil fuels around the globe! Free bit of advice to anyone reading this who owns real estate in Florida or Louisiana: SELL while you still can!!
So, Greg, your advice is to unload your underwater mortgage before your property is literally underwater?
Sorry — couldn’t resist.
Really, it continues to amaze me that coastline property is considered highly desirable! But then again, I’m afraid our citizenry has not been noted in recent decades for its ability to see problems right under its collective nose. What figure did I see in some scientists’ projection the other day–50% of the world’s population will have to flee coastal areas and crunch inland due to rising sea levels by end of this century? (Even if it was “merely” 40%, imagine the coming chaos!!) Or was it by the year 2050? Bottom line remains like I’ve been saying for a long time: we are way past the tipping point and only the willfully ignorant will continue to deny it (or the conveniently ignorant who secretly understand but fear losing their livelihood if they speak out).
A lot of faith/magical thinking, Greg, that it won’t happen to them. Or if it does happen, it’ll be far in the future, when they’re dead. That seems to be what people are thinking — if they’re thinking.
“I assume the gist of your teaching was NOT that recent US military adventures (abetted by the UK’s military, etc.) have been morally justified.” — Your assumption is absolutely correct. “I reckon the real decision makers were not among your students.” — Right, although a retired colonel or two audited the course and a variety of intelligence analysts enrolled over the years. What both surprised and delighted me was that not once did the university or the military tell me that I shouldn’t talk about this or that or have students read certain things.
I am an old woman. Nowadays I feel that all my life I have been not a citizen but a serf of the USA. I worked all my life to pay taxes that came to me under logos like “federal”, “state” and “local”. For a long time I believed that it was for my benefit. Late in life, away from the frenzy of being a mother and a wife, working to be able to pay the mortgage on our house, put food on the table, pay for the education of our children, etc I have had time to think and realize that I was no expense for the government. I paid my medical insurance, my homeowners insurance, my car insurance, my bills, never gave any trouble to the police, I always voted and so on. The only benefit I received was a light post in the street – which I also pay with a charge attached to to my water bill. If I want to see my street clean I have to sweep it myself, if I need the Police it never comes out, unless it is because my alarm goes off and I pay every year the additional charge to get the license for the alarm system that I also pay. I have a retirement because I paid for it all my working life. I had to buy a car because there is no reasonable mass transportation system in my town. Just recently we voted and added tax to build a rail that I will never use due to the time it is taking to be built. Are we living or just surviving to pay taxes? The air and the water are polluted regardless that we have EPA. Any moment somebody can come and knock on my door with an eviction because I live in an area that is old and developers that crave the plot of land under my home that can be used by them to build a tall building that will give them lots of profit. They can easily find an excuse with eminent dominium that will be approved by the City if it gives them more taxes to collect. So after working all my life I cannot enjoy my old age in peace. This is not what our Founding Fathers planned. They looked for land in the middle of two oceans and far away of the corrupted systems that ruled Europe. They created a beautiful nation in the new world and gave us the tools to keep it isolated, self sufficient because of the natural resources and independent. If anybody has the will and the time to read the ideas they expressed in their speeches, they clearly explained to us that if we broke the isolation, what we are witnessing now would happen. Like loving parents they gave us the list of do and don’t. We did not follow the route they created for us and now we have lost our way.
Well and truly said. Thank you.
I fully agree that Americans could enjoy a perfectly adequate standard of living based on this continent’s natural resources. Oh, people would have to scale back their expectations, but it’s only the magic of marketing that has led them to believe they have a “God-given” right to roll over the earth in their SUVs and absorb absurd amounts of electricity to power all their toys at home. But something happened in 1898: the men in top hats and tails decided American capitalism had to expand its reach to secure more resources for future growth, which would feed their profits. (Their European rivals, you see, had long established overseas colonies to exploit.) Thus were Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, etc. seized by force of arms. The world would never be the same. And ultimately the USA would become widely reviled as the number one global glutton and bully. But this is a big, big topic and I will stop now and leave space for other comments. Graciela, I wish you a happy balance of your life, without any eviction notices!
You can learn a lot about America by watching the two showpiece speeches by Michael Douglas/Gordon Gekko in the two “Wall Street” movies. These are of course the “Greed is good” speech (perhaps “Greed is God” would be better) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMt0UDE86fc and the Ninja/Greed is now legal speech from the sequel, “Money Never Sleeps.” They are funny speeches, but I laugh to hide the tears.
NINJA refers to the fact that many young adults have no income, no jobs, and no assets. Hence their greed for all of these — and more. And those who control the jobs and the income have our youth in the palms of their hands.
P.S. Wrote this early in 2011 about The NINJA speech:
I finally got around to watching Michael Douglas reprise his role of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. It’s a mixed bag, but Douglas does give yet another riveting speech that rivals his “greed is good” of the original Wall Street. Let’s call it the NINJA speech.
Addressing a group of young thrusters and hustlers and would-be “Masters of the Universe,” Douglas notes that the latest generation is, well, screwed. They’re the NINJA generation: no income, no job, no assets. The young people in the audience smile knowingly, yet you see the tenseness, the fear, underneath those smiles.
And here’s the question: Why are so many young people looking at bleak futures with fewer jobs and lower incomes and no reserves? Could it be that Wall Street and its craven machinations are somehow to blame?
Here one needs to read Matt Taibbi’s latest at Rolling Stone.
Consider Taibbi’s conclusion as to why Wall Street is able to profit endlessly, in ways that are stunning in their chutzpah and in their lack of concern for legality, let alone morality:
“The mental stumbling block, for most Americans, is that financial crimes don’t feel real; you don’t see the culprits waving guns in liquor stores or dragging coeds into bushes. But these frauds are worse than common robberies. They’re crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let’s steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money through a captive bureaucracy.”
Read Taibbi’s article. Ponder the words of Gordon Gekko. And then ask yourself, Who’s responsible for our NINJA generation? And why are they never called to account?
I give you the headline of future historians: Wall Street fiddled and profited while America burned.
Yes, well said, Graciela.
Regarding your statement, “This is not what our Founding Fathers planned,” do read Gordon S. Wood’s “Revolutionary Characters” (2007), which helps explain how we got from there to where we are now. http://www.amazon.com/Revolutionary-Characters-What-Founders-Different/dp/0143112082
First, a note on terminology from Wikipedia:
“Military Keynesianism is the position that the government should increase military spending in order to increase economic growth. The term is often used pejoratively to refer to politicians who reject Keynesian economics, except when arguing for the positive job creation of military spending.”
Now, with that necessary context established, I would like to offer a mild critique of Mr. Stanton’s article. I only have a bachelor’s degree in Economics (California State University, Long Beach, 1977) so I claim no great expertise in the field. Still, I would say that this article serves the general reader poorly by raising the subject of an economic analysis without rebutting its assertions in their own terms. The author does include a link to a study which offers an alternative economic analysis — namely, “Defense Spending and the Economy,” by Robert Barro and Veronique de Rugy — but unless the reader delves into this linked article at some length, which many readers will not likely do, the “suspicious” article in question retains a measure of bogus authenticity since the author declares the subject, in effect, too complicated for the average reader and more properly a topic for “the number crunchers and economists to sort out.” Had the author included a few choice excerpts from the Barro and de Rugy study, I think he could have evened the playing field, so to speak, without leaving the mistaken impression that economic analysis, as such, lies beyond the interests and abilities of the average reader.
Yes, I understand that the author wanted to make an argument against the immorality of Military Keynsianism“, but while most well-intentioned people would regard war as immoral, that widely shared ethical view does not seem to weigh as heavily with them as appeals to their economic self-interest. As Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man to see the truth when his salary depends on his not seeing it.” So, again, I wish that the author had stuck to debunking a bogus economic argument instead of just dropping the subject as somehow unfathomable. For example:
When the Soviet Union dissolved itself in the early 1990s, the United States lost much of its rationale for the monumental deficit war spending of the Reagan/Bush administrations. As a result of Soviet Government policies, then, the U.S. government cut much of its own unnecessary war spending. This led to significant downsizing and consolidation in the U.S. aerospace industry, which meant that many of us who worked in that industry lost our jobs and had to sell our homes in depressed local real-estate markets. An economic disaster for many of us personally — i.e., on a micro-economic level — but on a macro-economic level, money formerly spent on less productive war industries found itself free to seek more productive investments in the general civilian economy, leading to a sustained, decade-long boom in the economy, which resulted in higher tax revenues flowing into the U.S. treasury, which led to several years of balanced government budgets and even budget surpluses by the end of the Bill Clinton administration. None of this simple, historical economic analysis defies the comprehension of the average American. Simply note it and repeat it. No esoteric mathematical equations required.
Moreover, although mostly a “peace dividend” courtesy of the Soviet Union deciding that the Cold War made no economic sense, President Bill Clinton did manage to get a small increase in the top marginal tax rate through Congress — without a single Republican vote — since he had Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate early in his first administration. So, President Clinton does deserve at least some credit for demonstrating the bogus nature of Military Keynsianism. Economic lessons: (1) Decrease government spending on war industries and (2) raise the top marginal tax rate. Of course, as if to prove the disastrous economic consequences of Military Keysianism, when the U.S. Supreme Court selected George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Republicans to run things, they immediately did just the opposite of what President Bill Clinton had done: namely, they increased military war spending and decreased the top marginal tax rate. The immediate and lasting consequence? Exploding deficits and a moribund economy hollowed out and deeply in hock to foreign nations who now make all of our stuff while loaning us the money to buy it from them.
I apologize for going on at such length, but I did want to show that one can debunk a bogus economic argument by simply noting contrary government economic policies and their historic consequences. And while I certainly agree with the author regarding the immorality and hypocrisy of Military Keynsianism, I do not think that one needs appeals to moral metaphyisics in order to argue convincingly against this pernicious economic policy. Apples and Oranges, and all that …
Great analysis Mike!
Special thanks for this contribution.
I did not mean to suggest that a proper economic analysis “lies beyond the interests and abilities of the average reader.” Rather, my fundamental point was that the King’s College London profs had to caveat away any consideration of the horrors of war in order to make potential economic benefits look palatable. That they are wrong about the purported benefits is icing on the cake for my position, so thanks again for your contribution.
Thanks to you, as well, for your article and the associated link that I have bookmarked for future reference.
As noted above, I spent fifteen years working in the Southern California aerospace industry for the Hughes Aircraft Company which my mother (and fellow employee) used to jokingly call “Huge Aircrash.” We engineered and manufactured radar and telecommunications equipment for several branches of the U.S. military, work that I used to feel good about doing since it contributed to the national defence and provided health and dental insurance that helped me to raise my two sons till they could graduate from high school and strike out on their own. Still, I used to get into some frustrating debates with fellow employees, most of them diehard “conservatives” who hated “government spending” which they associated with “socialism,” “communism,” or worse. When I would point out to them that “government spending” produced our own employment and incomes, they would vehemently disagree, maintaining with a straight face that “only social programs” qualified as “government spending.” The self-serving hypocrisy of their position never seemed to dawn on them; or if it did, they would impudently and cynically disregard it in any event. So I came to understand fully what Upton Sinclair meant about a man’s salary dictating what he will see and understand. It seems to me that your King’s College professors most likely suffer from the same sort of employment-related intellectual dishonesty (if not schizophrenia). Additionally, few of them have probably participated in war or know anything of its true costs and horrors, so wilfully ignoring these when inconvenient comes easily and naturally to them. Actually, George Orwell covered this territory at some length in his classic essay, “Notes on Nationalism,” but we will probably have to postpone discussion of that dreadfully ubiquitous phenomenon until a later date, even though it seems unfortunately operative in the present case, both in the United States and the United Kingdom.
I posted this link on another article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-33161837
Nobody said it better than Eisenhower did in 1953:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people …This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
Imagine any Republican (or Democrat!) saying this today! Impossible to imagine, which shows you the extent to which our nation has been militarized.
Any sane democracy builds only those weapons that it needs for defense, and no more. For all military spending is like buying home or auto insurance: you need some in case of a crisis, but you try to minimize as much as possible since it’s essentially “lost” money — opportunity cost, if you will.
Yes, President Eisenhower did say what he said. Unfortunately, he said it when he had one foot out the door, so speak, just as he left office. But when his own political prospects depended upon exploiting a growing militarism and his Vice President’s vicious McCarthyism, he more than willingly went along with the sins he later decried once he no longer profited from them. In my working-class family, we mostly associated President Eisenhower with hard-to-find, low-wage work and the Eisenhower/McCarthy school prayer (which I like to call “The Pledge of Subservience”) forced upon impressionable, captive children. As I remember one person remarking many years ago: “Eisenhower sounds far more reasonable out of office than he ever did while in it.” But I did like one of Eisenhower’s aphorisms which he would employ whenever someone tried to stampede him into doing something he considered foolish: “Don’t just do something. Stand there.” How I wish that the last three Presidents of the United States had just done nothing stupidly militaristic and had just stood there doing nothing.
I don’t know enough about how Ike tackled McCarthyism. Was he too cautious? Trying to combat hysteria is a difficult thing. If you attack it head-on, you run the risk of inflaming it further. My sense is that Ike gave McCarthy enough rope to hang himself with. In a sense, McCarthy brought himself down in his wanton and vicious attacks, especially of the U.S. Army.
We should give Ike credit for saying these words in 1953, eight years before his more famous military-industrial complex speech.
Ike was a clever and strong-willed man with a strong core of human decency. Sure, he got things wrong, but it seems to me he got a lot of big things right.
Perhaps it’s just nostalgia for my childhood, but I still have this feeling that, all things considered, Ike was one of the better presidents of my lifetime. Did he push for desegregation of the nation’s school systems? Well, no. But he did something Obama has yet to do: send federal troops (or federalized National Guardsmen, at any rate) to Little Rock, Arkansas to defend the right of little African-American kids to attend school with the white kids–and considering the racist barrage being aimed at those little kids, he likely thereby literally saved their lives. I also respect that he kept his pledge to “end the Korean War,”
and not too far into his first term at that. Of course, it never ended, it subsided into an armistice. Would this 5-star general have preferred a clearcut US victory? Of course. But he successfully quelled the military madmen of the Douglas MacArthur mold who wanted to attack China with nuclear weapons. All that said, I don’t think Ike was a particularly clever or savvy politician. He had a braintrust to advise him, as do all modern presidents…, oh, and Nixon was around, too [giggle]! And if I’m remembering accurately, the Patton character in the movie of the same name remarks that Eisenhower didn’t read books. Whereas he, the almighty Patton, was very well read in history and even a poet of sorts!
According to David Halberstam in his classic book The Best and the Brightest, President Eisenhower let General Matthew Ridgway make the case against the U.S. going to war in Indochina in 1954. … “Later Ridgway would would write that of all the things he had done in his career — the battles fought, units commanded, medals won, honors accorded — there was nothing he was prouder of than helping to keep us from intervening in Indochina. …”
“But not going into French Indochina in 1954 was not the same thing as getting out. We decided that we would stay and supplant the French after the Geneva agreements had been signed in July, calling for a division of the country. … so at [John Foster] Dulles’ urging, Eisenhower took 10 percent of the money set aside for other countries and ticketed it to Vietnam. In addition, the decision to send advisers was made in late September, when Congress was out of session …”
So, fellow Crimestoppers, there began the Great Quagmire. President Eisenhower gets the credit for not “going in” [BIG] to war in Southeast Asia at the same time that he “went in [“SMALL”], understanding full well, thanks to General Ridgway, what the eventual costs would amount to. Sort of like President Obama “getting out” of Iraq by going back in while “getting out” of Afghanistan” by staying there. Not a “Big” war, but just a “Little” one. Even worse, in Eisenhower’s case:
“[Presidential adviser] Truston Morton was assigned to inform Senator Russell of the Armed Services Committee that the President would be sending an estimated 200 men to South Vietnam as well as funding the country. Russell answered that it was a mistake, it would not stay at 200 , it would eventually go to 20,000 and perhaps one day even as high 200,000.”
As we all know by now, the eventual 200 “advisers” in South Vietnam eventually swelled to 550,000 combat forces. Here we have in Eisenhower a typical political coward trying to have it both ways while ignoring credible advice against an ill-advised policy, babbling noble-sounding rhetoric to cover for inexcusable ineptitude. So, yes, President Eisenhower gets credit for negotiating a cease fire in Korea, but he left thousands of U.S. troops marooned there as hostages where they remain today. As with Eisenhower’s have-it-both-ways policy in Southeast Asia, arranging a cease fire in Korea was not the same thing as getting out.
We could also mention Eisenhower’s use of the CIA to overthrow the elected government of Iran in 1953, installing the brutal Shah Pahlavi as dictator. The United States still hasn’t managed to overcome the lasting harm to our national interests caused by that criminal enterprise. And, of course, we should not forget Ike’s CIA planning the invasion of Cuba, which Ike never authorized himself but advised his successor, John F. Kennedy (who valued Ike’s advice) to undertake. We got the Bay of Pigs and almost a nuclear war over that historic bungle. And, worst of all, the scurrilous, red-baiting Richard Nixon got his start in national politics as Ike’s Vice President. No less an authority on McCarthyism than Tail Gunner Joe himself once even gave Nixon credit for giving him the idea. Sure, Ike let McCarthy eventually hang himself, but not before he had savaged a host of lives and careers in both private and public life, all to the political profit of the Republican Party.
In summary, then, let me just say that President Eisenhower gets due credit for some things — like preventing the British, French, and Apartheid Zionists from stealing the Suez Canal from Egypt — but a balanced account of his presidency reveals some disasters that have harmed U.S. national interests for over half a century. Just saying …
Cold War fears of monolithic communism blinded far too many U.S. leaders. Vietnam became yet another test case for containment, a war that U.S. leaders eventually convinced themselves they had to fight in the name of containment. Even though the Vietnam “brand” of communism was far different from the Soviet and Chinese brand, most Americans just couldn’t see it. And once American leaders committed their so-called prestige, they then refused to “cut and run,” even as it became obvious they’re in the wrong. By 1965, if not sooner, LBJ and his closest advisers were almost unanimously uneasy about Vietnam, some with profound misgivings. Yet they convinced themselves that continuing the fight was better than withdrawing (lost of prestige and all that).
Pride goeth before a fall. Or when the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit. Too many men were blinded by the communist threat, and they led others into the pit of the Vietnam war.
I had a sneaking suspicion that Mike Murry would offer a much harsher view of the Eisenhower years! Just bear in mind that I was weighing presidencies in relative terms. I said Ike was “not all that terrible,” all things considered. Two more quick points: 1.) Nixon got his entry onto the national political stage via his red-baiting (the dreaded “Pink Lady” campaign!); he got entry into a national OFFICE via Ike. Not sure how the latter really felt about ‘Tricky Dick’; the GOP machinery had selected him, a la Ms. Palin as McCain’s running mate; 2.) Bill Astore: “Too many men were blinded by the [ginned-up, exaggerated, nay mythical] communist threat…” In a recent interview for an Italian newspaper, Pres. Putin encouraged that publication to show a map of the world indicating all the US military bases around the globe and compare it to Russian overseas facilities. I thought that was quite brilliant.
I have lived through the regimes of about ten (10) US Presidents ( 3-4 before I could vote) and have come to the conclusion that most of them did a little good for the country and the common man but a lot more bad. Even Richard Nixon, who I used to dream that I was a secret adviser to. showed more of that rare quality of “vision” than our current one. He may have had Machiavellian motives behind his reaching out to China but at that time with a powerful anti “china element in the
Republican party it was a bold visionary move compared with Obama’s militarily provocative “pivot” to the Pacific aimed at China. One must also remember that the “Clean Water Act ” was signed into law by Nixon while this President approved Arctic drilling and unencumbered fracking. despoiling our water.and environment.
Looking back now I have concluded that Obama has the worst record of all, including to three disastrouws Presidents preceedign him.. He has thrown a few minor legislative bones to his political base but has institutioanlized the corporate authoritrian state in perpetual war and is in the process of divorcing us from local and constitutional law with the TPP.
Sidebar re the Clean Water Act: Let’s not give Nixon too much credit. He vetoed the measure, even though it had passed both houses of Congress without opposition. Congress immediately overrode the veto by an overwhelming vote. (In support of his veto, Nixon got only 12 votes in the Senate and 23 in the House.) Numerous federal district court cases quickly ruled that the President had no authority to impound funds that Congress had designated “shall be” spent. See N. Stanton, “History and Practice of Executive Impoundment of Appropriated Funds,” 53 Neb. L. Rev. 1 (1974) and http://www.gracelinks.org/blog/625/nixon-s-clean-water-act-impoundment-power-play.
Nile said “Back in the age when slavery was deemed acceptable by many people…” Slavery still exists, but rather than chattel slavery, which is now rare, it takes the form of wage and debt slavery, which is the norm and acceptable …
Reading history I find war and slavery are as frequent as peace and liberty. Sad.