Monday, July 22, 2013

How's The War Economy Working For You? War, you say? What War? The continuing War of Empire, say I...

Privatize the Empire

By: Michael Orange
Submitted 7/16/13 to VetSpeak

With the patriotic Fourth of July and Memorial Day commemorations of our wars now behind us, it is also a time to ponder the terrible costs of war. As an ex-Marine who served in Vietnam, I know of them first hand. I offer a solution that will halt injuries to our troops and please conservatives: Privatize the Empire.

Conservatives argue that the private sector is inherently more efficient than the public sector. Since the Reagan Administration, they have stepped up efforts to privatize aspects of the traditional “commons”—schools, airports, police and fire services, parks, the postal service, health care, public works projects, prisons, etc. War is no exception. Private contractors and mercenaries have consistently outnumbered US troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I say outsource them all so our troops can come home to defend this country.

Obviously, the government sector is inefficient at waging war. Our war on Iraq resulted in a devastated corrupted country, hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, millions of refugees, trillions of wasted dollars, and death and trauma to our own troops. One in five Iraqi children dies due to disease, malnutrition, and unsafe water.

A private sector cost-benefit analysis would have dismissed these wars against our enemy—al-Qaida (a private sector entity) as folly from the start. The vast majority of al-Qaida leaders have been “fired” not by the gross hammer of our military (which creates enemies faster than they can kill them) but by the surgical precision of our intelligence services. Years ago, Mafia kingpins dominated the FBI’s Most Wanted list, but we never invaded Sicily under the slogan of “We're fighting them there, so we don't have to fight them here.”

We spend more on the military than all other countries combined. If the Pentagon scaled back to what it needs for actual defense, imagine the savings! It could sell most of the 737 bases we maintain in foreign countries and have a fire sale worth trillions in surplus planes, ships, tanks, and explosives—everything the oil industry, for example, would need to take over the job of securing their private supply lines. Why waste time on diplomacy when the industry can afford to buy whatever political influence it needs—just as it does here. I’m sure the countries that have “our oil under their sand” would prefer to deal with CEOs directly and avoid the risk of regime change by a fickle public sector middleman like a US President.

Conservatives say they hate public subsidies because they create an uneven playing field. The oil industry is the richest in history yet the most subsidized. Why not eliminate their dependency on the public dole and unleash their gung ho competitive spirit in their own defense.

Conservative journalist, Eric Margolis, writes of bin Laden, al-Qaida’s CEO, “He repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them. [We] ... rushed right into bin Laden’s trap.” So let’s get out! Privatize before they further radicalize. 

The hundreds of thousands of troops eligible for benefits already overwhelm our VA hospitals. The Army Times reported that, on average, 31 veterans a day try to kill themselves and 22 of them succeed—a suicide every 65 minutes. Over the past few years, more troops have died by their own hands than on our two main battlefields. Let’s privatize before more troops are traumatized.

We already privatized our elections and Congress. Why not the Empire? 

As a Marine in Vietnam, Michael Orange experienced combat in numerous search-and-destroy missions and patrols during his tour of duty (1969-70). In 2001, he published a memoir of his experiences, Fire in theHole: A Mortarman in VietnamHe teaches a class on the history of the Vietnam War at venues including the University of Minnesota's Compleat Scholar Program.