“War, huh, yea, what is it good for”
If you were born in the 40’s or 50’s this blog title should bring back memories – most of them not necessarily good!
Almost everyone associates this 1970 hit with Edwin Starr but the song was originally done by the Temptations in 1969. It was Starr’s biggest hit and quickly moved up the charts to number one on the Billboard Top 100. “War”, was, by far, the most popular of the Vietnam War protest songs. Bruce Springsteen and his “E” street band remade it into a Top 10 hit in 1986.
After 9/11, “War” was placed on a list along with another 165 songs that were considered questionable. Clear Channel Communications, which owned more than 1,200 radio stations across the country at that time, released the list to minimize any backlash to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Lowry Mays, a long time Republican and supporter of Texas A&M University and the George Bush Presidential Library owned Clear Channel, at the time. Just ask the Dixie Chicks how powerful Clear Channel is as a media company.
Back to the song and its lyrics…
The lyrics are clear –
“War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Later on in the song the lyrics go on to say:
War, it ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker
Peace, love and understanding
Tell me, is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way
The song implies that the only “friend” of war is the undertaker but that could not be further from the truth.
So, who benefits from war, surely someone does. I have a few ideas about that.
My list of benefactors of war are:
- The Military Industrial Complex. This is one huge conglomeration of companies and people. Many individuals would put Halliburton and Blackwater, now Xe at the top of the list. By the way, doesn’t Xe sound so harmless and innocent – it almost sounds like it could be the name of a chain of acupuncture clinics. There are dozens of huge corporations that are making billions manufacturing instruments of death.
- The Unemployment Rate. Yes, I agree, this sounds strange, but as long as we have continuous war the unemployment rate will stay within some fairly reasonable range. Just think about it, if we did not drop as many bombs, launch missile attacks, shoot as many bullets, and need as many Humvees, fighter aircraft, drones, missiles, and guns, tens of thousands of individuals would be out of work instead of making these weapons for the military.
- Healthcare Industry. Tens of thousands of military have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan with serious injuries such as amputations, loss of hearing or eyesight, and other complications such as Gulf War Syndrome. Also, being exposed to numerous weapons coated with Depleted Uranium has resulted in long-term health complications, and an increase in birth defects to children born to military after returning from combat.
- Savvy Investors. Individuals privy to information as to what companies are getting lucrative military weapons contracts can invest in those companies and literally make a “killing”. Ironic, right – someone making a killing on instruments of death.
- The nuclear power industry and the Department of Energy. Depleted Uranium (DU) is byproduct of Uranium enrichment. DU is required to be properly containerized and safely transported and stored in underground facilities. I find it interesting that the Militari Industrial Complex gets DU on the cheap, uses it to coat bullets, rockets, artillery shells, bombs, and missiles – supposedly to make each of these weapons more effectively pierce their targets. I believe there is a more sinister purpose – to cause long term health risks, including civilian deaths and birth defects on a whole population. Another issue in the collateral damage it causes to our military. Any troops that handle these weapons stand a high degree of long term illness and death, which also goes back to item #2, the unemployment rate. In effect, our military becomes disposable, i.e. if they do not die in combat, they will die sooner from things like Gulf War Syndrome and DU, so guess what, they will not be around for the next round of fighting – which results in more military recruitment. This is a sad cycle of short term and near term cycles of death. Again, what a novel idea “Drop of our Depleted Uranium over THERE so we do not have to store it over HERE”. That philosophy sure makes the state of Utah happy.
- Big Oil. Yes, big oil benefits from our wars. All of our recent wars have been about pipelines, oil, and natural resources including copper, coltan, gold, diamonds and even water. Exxon, BP, Conoco, Shell, and Chevron should be writing bonus checks to all of the military in combat zones – they are the real reason why we are there. They all are making record profits and paying out huge dividends because our government and our military is providing them relatively safe access to oil reserves and safe passage of their products to refineries.
- The Republican Party and The Democratic Party. This probably sounds bad but neither party gives a hell about our military. Sure, there is a lot of posturing about who cares more about national defense and our military in general but if either party cared about our military first, we never would have gone into Iraq or Afghanistan to begin with. All both parties do is a continuous series of one-upmanship – taking each point of contention and trying to parlay it into votes for their respective candidates, i.e. votes first, troops last. Henry Kissenger said it best, “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.” To be sure, I do not agree with that philosophy, but unfortunately when we all support patriotism; our military will be used as pawns. Mrs. George Bush was quoted on Diane Sawyer saying, “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It’s so relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?” Believe me, these quotes are not listed because Republicans made them – they could have been made by any first lady or any secretary of state.
What else do you think should be added to this list? I am sure there are others who benefit from “War, huh, yea, what is it good for”. Edwin Starr started the list with Undertakers and I added seven more. What are your thoughts?