“War is a racket”

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In the early 20th century, Major General Smedley Butler, America’s most decorated marine at the time of his death, wrote, “War is a racket” and “I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism”.   

In the early 20th century, Major General Smedley Butler, America’s most decorated marine at the time of his death, wrote, “War is a racket” and “I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism”.   
Nearly a century has passed and little has changed. Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, former Federal Reserve (US Central Bank) Chairman Alan Greenspan wrote “I’m saddened that it’s politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil.”
The presence of western forces in geostrategic and resource rich regions of the world reinforce these ideas. Our support for dictatorships willing to do our bidding vs the demonization of those that don’t offers further evidence.   
Unsurprisingly, this thread of thought has never gained much traction in the media, nor amongst the majority of politicians. When it comes to the rationale for war, dominant narratives about the fight for freedom and democracy, peace, human rights, a safer world etc., persist.
A careful exploration of the historical literature casts serious doubt on the stories we’re told.
Since the end of WWI, the war to end all wars, war has not abated and military spending has increased to unfathomable heights, while the threat of nuclear war looms over us in an increasingly unstable world. The military industrial complex, a term former president Dwight Eisenhower coined, which refers to the influence of corporations on public policy, has very little interest in any of the above. The benefits to western corporations are vast and include access to valuable resources like oil, precious minerals and cheap human labour.
The millions of lives sacrificed at the altar of greed, and the untold suffering of millions more displaced by war are little more than ‘collateral damage’. The vast resources of powerful corporations have been mobilized to lobby governments and rally public support for war and military spending.
Through deception and manipulation, we’ve come to increasingly accept war as inevitable and surveillance a necessary tool to keep us safe. At the same time, we forget what many who fought in wars have tried to tell us; that war is horrific, destructive and must end.
We will not achieve peace at the barrel of a gun. It will only be achieved when justice is prioritized and a more equitable world is realized. We would do well to consider Einstein’s words “war cannot
be humanized, it can only be abolished” and work together to achieve this “radical” idea.

Vagner Castilho
WAKEFIELD