Monday, January 02, 2006

War is a Racket

I watched "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" on New Year's Day. Past all the fun eye candy of these films lies the heart of a stirring story...the saddness of lost beauty, dealing with change, the short sightedness of mankind, the nature of greed and power and the stuggle of the small against the insurmountable. This is one of my favorite stories and deals with mythic evil turning the machine of war on the innocent. In mythology, struggles are really black and white. Evil is really evil and good is really good. We do not have the privilidge of this kind of perspective in real life.

I got to thinking about this war that we are sleeping through here in the U.S. Why are we there? What have we done? What a mess we've made of things. And we don't even really talk about it anymore. The only protesters we hear are all the freaky fringe people that say really dumb things for sound bytes and supporters care more about economic issues here at home than about the real struggle of two severly different cultures literally clashing with life and death...real death, not movie death, at stake.

Where is the church? Where are our prayers? Do we pray? If we pray, do we only pray for the safety of "our troops"? Do we believe the scriptures that the gospel is for every tribe, tounge and nation? Do we hate Muslims? Is our struggle against flesh and blood? Are we seeking to be understood more than to understand? Are we looking after our own interests and not after the interests of others? Do we really love our enemies? Do we pray for those who persecute us and speak all manner of evil against us? Are we followers of Christ first or Americans first?

Looking around the internet, I came across this quote from Smedley Butler, one of our nations most decorated officers from World War 2. I found it interesting and wanted to share it. Take time to read it and respond...
War Is A Racket

Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

Smedley Butler

WAR is a racket. 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.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it.


Anonymous said...

I really like your blog, I find it INQUISITIVE...
Chris... how about you do a Stella post and I'll do a Jalen post?
Hope all is well in Modesto. Say hey to the family for me.
I'll be in touch - T

Anonymous said...

By the way....

I wasn't posting that thought about our kids because I, too, have forgotten about this war. I was just revisiting your blog yesterday and posted on a passing thought.
But with attention to your words on this particular post, it's really hard for a Canadian to see this war the same way Americans do. The feelings one gets when they are:
a) not involved, and have no personal connections to the war
b) very small and feel they can do nothing to stop what's going on

we feel compicated feelings. We hope the war ends swiftly and that lives are spared. We sift through all the conflicting stories that rise from the diverse views of the international media. We talk about it once in awhile in passing, and horribly have even worked it into our joke material. It's hard to stop and think deeply about the death and destruction when we're told that this is all "for the greater good". If I'm talking myself into a corner here, it's because I'm at a loss to offer a conclusion: aside from praying and educating each other, what can we do?

Is it just and right to ask God to intervene if injustice is being done? Shall he smite the evil empire and ruin your mostly good country and everything it stands for? This is deep stuff.