oldschool CxC

Monday, February 26, 2007

Anyone read this book? War is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America's Most Decorated General (Paperback)
by Smedley D. Butler (Author)
? I was just recommended it but haven't read it. I was wondering how those of us who are pro-war might feel about reading the book by a General about how War is corrupt? Just reading the Amazon customer reviews gives a powerful insight into what's wrong w/the war machine.

I went to this amazing 'stone gallery' in Berkeley where I got to hang w/an artist, Ehren Tool. Rapped with him for awhile on this. He has a series of powerful pieces to increase war awareness: ceramic cups with war imagery on them. He's giving them away for free & mailed some to Bush, & Cheney. I didn't realize he was a Gulf War Vet, just makes his stuff more powerful.


Blogger Erik said...

I read this comment on Amazon about the book:

[He] proposes three specific anti-war measures:

1) Take the profit out of war. Nationalize and mobilize the industrial sector, and pay every manager no more than each soldier earns.

Setting aside any valid points he may have to make about big business and war, this is retarded. I'm going to keep saying this over and over: involuntary collectivism is evil.

As for a constitutional amendment, I don't think that's necessary but it's certainly a valid avenue for redress. But it won't happen: it takes 2/3rds of each house of congress, and 3/4ths of the states to ratify. Wouldn't it be easier to simply elect a congress who doesn't write a blank check to the president for declaring war? They can do that with a super-majority, and without the states. The power exists, they just don't have the balls to use it. It's much easier to carp from the sidelines than put some real skin in the game. That plus the fact that many people simply don't agree with the premise.

8:54 AM  
Blogger REkz said...

Uh, taking the profit motive out of war is NOT retarded, IMO.

It blocks govt incentive (and private sector) to go to wars and fight -- when there's no enemy -- b/c our society is built on a war-time economy. However, when there's no wars, the USA economy has problems, so it needs war.

You probably dispute that point.

As for a constitutional amendment, I see it like this:
Rome fell b/c it was overextended and corrupted internally.

The USA is quite extended, and as we have seen (Haliburton & Enron) corruption is deep...

Either citizens will rise up to reign in their corrupt society, or foreign influence will do this, or the society will collapse b/c it cripples itself.

I was shocked that Congress wrote a blank check -- however they probably all stood to benefit with cold hard cash, ie they were incentivized.

Did you see Bullworth? That movie cracked me up... Bad movie, but good point -- corruption is rampant in DC.

Not sure what to do about that, but I think not making war a profit-incented activity is a smart move.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Sony said...

Rome lasted about 1000 years and was corrupt for the entire period and reached its maximum geographic boundries more than 4 centuries before its collapse. From a historical perspective, I believe various other factors are more important to its collapse.

I do like that Ari is starting to think like us: let the government take over an economic sector and it'll become totally crappy and useless. I assume you feel that way about nationalized health care too?

3:32 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

So Ari, I wasn't commenting on "take the profit motive out of war," but instead on "nationalize the industrial sector." To Sony's point, it seems like you agree that doing so would cripple it. That seems bass-ackwards to me, since the failure would be due to ineptitude, not because profit is no longer a driving force in a government-controlled business. See: The US Postal Service, whose suckitude is not from lack of trying.

So I was disagreeing with the tactics, not the goal; although I do disagree with that too. I just don't buy the whole Chomsky-esque premise that the military-industrial complex is a major driver of foreign policy decisions. I think it certainly plays at the edges, like the continued Osprey debacle, and I might agree that certain Pentagon types are thinking "we need a war to justify our budget," but I disagree with "we need a war to justify Halliburton's profits." There's a facile cynicism there that gets to the heart of the point that I've been trying to make, that it's easier to assign a nefarious motive to a person or organization you don't like rather than argue against it on its own terms.

And to reiterate my point about an Amendment: it's much easier for Congress to pass a law than to ratify an amendment. Much, much easier. So if they can't do the former, what makes you think they'll instead do the latter?

11:03 AM  
Blogger Sony said...

Further to Erik’s point, I’m skeptical of all conspiracy talk. Whether its the Jews running Hollywood, the GOP stealing the vote, Halliburton starting wars or Democrats overturning private property, it just doesn’t wash with me. No group of human beings can combine to wield powerful levers on policy and maintain secrecy. Each such group births someone so stupid or big mouthed and egotistical that it gets out. Especially now that we have more news sources and media outlets than at any time in history. You can’t be that big and powerful without being outed to the mainstream media. Crackpots will call out all sorts of conspiracies (we didn’t land on the moon?), but the real burgeoning conspiracies always get cracked to the mainstream early on—militias, Chinese funding of the GOP and Demo campaigns, Black panthers, Waco, insider trading, etc. None survive their infancy.

Rather, I think, policy is made by a convergence of interest groups, often incomprehensible (ACLU and Nazis?) and inevitably leading to compromise that leaves each group short of its objectives (the hawks wanted Syria too). This is the wisdom of our system. By letting everyone participate—even if ineffectually—you keep any one group from seizing control and you keep many groups spying on the others. A simple example is the last 6 years of GOP domination, which was well known, commonly thought a disaster, widely blasted by its opponent and the media, and mercifully brought to an end by voters. I call that a success and testament to our system.

That’s not so say a single group can’t take over, just that it can’t do it secretly. Look at involuntary collective socialism among Nazis, Russians and Chinese. Except, by their model, you couldn’t vote them out once in. Not that anyone actually wants to relinquish their liberty to a small group making promises about redistributing wealth and property for the bettermant of all. That would be the sin of forgetting history and persecution.

2:00 PM  

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