Is Peace a Dirty Word?

“We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.” President Eisenhower (1960)

Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash at TruthOut, wrotePeace is not Profitable Enough for the United States.”

”The National Priorities Project, which keeps running expenditure tabs on the costs of war, estimates that the US has now spent nearly $1.7 trillion on wars since 2001.

“The dramatic expansion in privatizing war and intelligence services only increases the incentive for trying to find ways to profit from conflict and focusing on the elimination of ‘enemies.’ This includes not just the major wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan, but numerous spots around the world in which the US is engaged in what are called low-intensity conflicts.

The triumph of the military-industrial complex – which President Eisenhower warned against before he left office – is indisputable. It has bipartisan support in Congress and the White House. The only variable is the degree of the hunger for wars. (This question of degree comes out at moments like the current one, as the decision on whether to go to war with Iran hovers in the air.)

“. . . there are relatively few US decision makers, industry leaders, or bureaucrats who would actually welcome peace. After all, their government jobs or privatized contracts are at stake. There’s just too much money, too much profit, too many campaign contributions and too many jobs that rely on war and the vilifying of endless – and quickly replaceable – ‘enemies.’”

Here’s an excerpt of President Eisenhower’s prescient and cautionary speech [editors emphasis]:

“We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a [20th]century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

“Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

“Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology — global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration…

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial 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.”

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