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Are we fighting wars so defense industry can make a profit?

Posted Aug. 18, 2011, at 4:52 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 18, 2011, at 6:42 p.m.

My mother passed away last year. Recently, I got to sorting out some of her papers and ran across a 1936 newsletter titled “Current Events, The National School Newspaper,” that had been distributed to her high school.

On the front page, there was a subtitle “Committee Accuses Arms Maker of Stirring Up War for Profits,” which reported the 300-page findings of a Congressional Munitions Committee headed by then North Dakota Sen. Gerald P. North.

The article read, “the report accused arms and munitions makers of starting ‘war scares,’ stirring up rivalries between nations, and hindering all efforts toward disarmament and world peace.”

As evidence, the committee showed that in the war between Bolivia and Paraguay each country was led to buy more and more arms, by the threat that the supply would be sold to its rival country. In a similar war between Colombia and Peru, a similar method of breaking down “sales resistance” was used.

The majority of the committee recommended that Uncle Sam take over the manufacture of all warships, gun forgings, torpedoes, powder, rifles, pistols and machine guns necessary for the war department. The minority disagreed and suggested that strict control of munitions plants would be better than government ownership.

Well, I guess today we can see how that worked out with the threat of weapons of mass destruction used by former Halliburton executive and Vice President Dick Cheney to motivate Congress for the invasion of Iraq — a country who posed no threat to the U.S. and had nothing do with 9/11.

We invaded Iraq as enticed by Mr. Cheney and remain there, along with Halliburton, long after Saddam Hussein was tried and hung and we still have no plans to completely withdraw.

Once we occupied Iraq, we went back to Afghanistan to find and kill Osama bin Laden, the person never tried in absentia, but accused of being the head of al-Qaida and responsible for 9/11. Bin Laden is now dead and, like in Iraq, the munitions salesmen and Halliburton still are reaping great profits to keep over 100,000 troops there and in over 100 other countries occupied by American forces.

Billions of dollars of American taxpayers’ dollars are annually spent for the defense of Israel, a country already equipped with over 100 nukes, nuclear Navy and sophisticated Air Force. It seems like Israel has enough munitions to defend against anybody and has a healthy economy in the process. Are we not occupying, bribing or bombing most of its former enemies without Israel having to spend a dime?

Our nation is in serious economic trouble. We need to stop the unnecessary purchase of munitions for “phony wars,” especially those of other nations.

We need to heed the lessons of history or face even more economic disaster than we are already experiencing.

Patrick Eisenhart of Augusta is a semi-retired telecommunications consultant. He was an elected delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention.

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