The madness continues. In a bitter stroke of irony, Barack Obama, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has set America on the road to endless war — and, it must be said, endless death. All the while, Obama has essentially anointed himself, in the words of a Spiegel commentator, the “Nobel War Prize laureate.”
It is a terrible mantle for anyone to take on but most especially a president whom many Americans hoped would bring the troops home. Instead, at President Obama’s bidding, 30,000 more Americans will leave their homes and families in order to march to war in Afghanistan (bringing the total to 100,000 troops), and American taxpayers will continue to be bled dry in order to fuel the profits of the war machine. There has even been talk of a “war tax,” levied against anyone making more than $200,000 to pay for the war.
War is not cheap. Although the federal government obscures so much about its defense spending that accurate figures are difficult to procure, we do know that military spending is between 35-50 percent of all money spent by the U.S. government. In fact, Obama’s defense budget for the coming year could very well be the largest ever, possibly exceeding a trillion dollars.
Just consider the fact that the annual cost to support one U.S. servicemember in Afghanistan alone is over $1 million — twice the amount spent in Iraq. One of the reasons for the high cost of maintaining each soldier can be attributed to the lack of governmental oversight of private contractor billings, which are rampant with fraud, waste and fat — all designed to rip off the American taxpayer.
And then there are the human costs of war. The military and civilian deaths and casualties are bad enough. But it is also estimated that with the additional troops committed to Afghanistan by Obama, there will be at least 10,000 new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and thousands more traumatic brain injuries to account for as our soldiers come limping home.
War has unfortunately become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire, is one of its best customers. Indeed, the American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope and dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth. For example, while erecting a security surveillance state in the U.S., the military-industrial complex has perpetuated a worldwide military empire with American troops stationed in 177 countries (over 70 percent of the countries worldwide).
This is the very same military empire of which Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 “Farewell Address to the Nation.”
“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.”
Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, was alarmed by the rise of the killing machine that emerged following the war — one that, in order to perpetuate itself, would have to conduct war.
The military-industrial complex runs a deadly game, one that all presidents, including Obama, play. But the consequences, as Eisenhower recognized, are grave.
Furthermore, the great moral and religious leaders throughout the ages have condemned violence and war — from Jesus to Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr., a Nobel Peace Prize winner himself. On April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, one year to the day before his assassination, King spoke out against the immorality and evils of war: “America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”
The only solution, King declared, is “an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.” He maintained that “We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.”
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute.