history redux the terror-industrial complex, stones and fallen leaves

Former Secretary of State and the Pentagon’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell apologized in a 2007 interview in Gentleman’s Quarterly  for not properly vetting intelligence that was part of the, well… propaganda campaign that lead up to the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Understandingly the General’s admission and apology was the focus of a lot of attention. Thus a warning by the former CJCS that America should be on guard against the establishment of a “terror-industrial complex”,

“What is the greatest threat facing us now?” Powell asked. “People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. … The only thing that can really destroy us is us. We shouldn’t do it to ourselves, and we shouldn’t use fear for political purposes—scaring people to death so they will vote for you, or scaring people to death so that we create a terror-industrial complex.”

Powell brings up two past warnings. So well known that they have perhaps become either cliches or a kind of white noise that people get used to and ignore. Abraham Lincoln said ” America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” And Former President and General Dwight Eisenhower who warned of the military-industrial complex,

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Interesting that Powell and Eisenhower are both to some degree political hybrids. Eisenhower in many ways represented the end of the genuine Republican party, while Ike’s vice-president Nixon, represented the transformation of the beginning of the right-wing party ( the transformation of the Republican party did not happen over night. It existed for years with various factions fighting for power and the direction of the party.) Sure there are something approaching genuine Republicans still in the right-wing party. Its like much of history we chose a point at which a nation or culture made a major turn – The Middle Ages, The French Revolution where large factions of people have a lasting ideological change. Considering the recent history of the right-wing party its strange when one of their paid up members actually acts like a Republican, Cindy McCain Bankrolled Conference That Called for Ban on Mercenaries

“[T]he use of deadly force must be entrusted only to those whose training, character and accountability are most worthy of the nation’s trust: the military,” reads the executive summary of the U.S. Naval Academy’s 9th Annual McCain Conference on Ethics and Military Leadership, which was held in April at the Annapolis Naval Station. “The military profession carefully cultivates an ethic of ‘selfless service,’ and develops the virtues that can best withstand combat pressures and thus achieve the nation’s objectives in an honorable way. By contrast, most corporate ethical standards and available regulatory schemes are ill-suited for this environment.”

In 2001, Cindy McCain, who may be worth as much as $100 million, first endowed the McCain conference “in honor of her husband” with a $210,000 gift that was specifically intended to fund conferences that would “bring together key military officers and civilian academics responsible for ethics education and character developments.”

[   ]…Despite the fact that the McCain conference, which publicly advocated against the use of armed contractors in combat areas bears Sen. McCain’s name and was bankrolled by his wife, when it has come to making this a major issue on Capitol Hill, the Arizona Senator has been largely silent. In 2007, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jan Schakowsky introduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which sought to do precisely what the McCain conference called for two years later: to ban the use of mercenaries in US war zones. McCain did not endorse or co-sponsor that legislation, which would certainly have benefitted from his support (neither did then-Senator Barack Obama).

Cindy is largely correct, but misses a major point when she asserts “[T]he use of deadly force must be entrusted only to those whose training, character and accountability are most worthy of the nation’s trust: the military”. The reason that Blackwater(now known as Xe) is so successful is they recruit from the military. Most of its field employees – the mercenaries – were trained in special ops, not by Blackwater, but by the U.S. military via tax payers. Those same tax payers pay the same ex-special ops personnel inflated salaries,

A memo released at the hearing  shows that some of the paid militia were making as much as $1,200 per day. Compare that with what the Washington Post reports American servicepersons make risking their lives for this nation:

An unmarried sergeant given Iraq pay and relief from U.S. taxes makes about $83 to $85 a day, given time in service. A married sergeant with children makes about double that, $170 a day. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad overseeing more than 160,000 U.S. troops, makes roughly $180,000 a year, or about $493 a day. That comes out to less than half the fee charged by Blackwater for its senior manager of a 34-man security team.

Neither FDR or Harry Truman had anything against someone working hard and making a buck, but they had the moral sensibilities to see that military conflicts should never be a windfall of profits,

When he heard rumors of such profiteering, Truman got into his Dodge and, during a Congressional recess, drove 30,000 miles paying unannounced visits to corporate offices and worksites. The Senate committee he chaired launched aggressive investigations into shady wartime business practices and found “waste, inefficiency, mismanagement and profiteering,” according to Truman, who argued that such behavior was unpatriotic. Urged on by Truman and others in Congress, President Roosevelt supported broad increases in the corporate income tax, raised the excess-profits tax to 90 percent and charged the Office of War Mobilization with the task of eliminating illegal profits. Truman, who became a national hero for his fight against the profiteers, was tapped to be FDR’s running mate in 1944.

stones and fallen leaves