In The Alternative two weeks ago I bashed the Army Corps of Engineers with no feedback at all. The mention of a private pursuit of Osama bin Laden in that article is a different matter.
In the early days of our country we had no navy. Pirates were a problem so the government, basically, put out a bounty on them. Privateers or bounty hunters would be allowed to capture pirates for a reward.
Issuing Letters of Marque and Reprisal is one of the powers of Congress listed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Soon after 9/11, Congress had a choice to make: Seek out and put on trial the perpetrators of the attacks or conduct a broad war against anyone with similar views. Ignoring Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning to beware of the military/industrial complex, Congress chose the latter.
Since we now have a self-described businessman as president, let’s look at that decision from a perspective of costs versus benefits.
My estimate of $3 trillion as the cost of the war on terror turned out to be low. The U.S. government has spent $6 trillion on the war on terror. That would equal $18,750 for every man, woman, and child in the country.
The popular opposition generally referred to as liberals would love for that money to be spent in a “socially responsible” way. A morally superior and more beneficial way for all of us would have been to allow those who earned it to keep it and invest it themselves.
Conservatives, enamored with military worship, actually turn out to be the ones who are against free enterprise (to the tune of $18,750 per person). Conservatives and liberals are allies in the war on capitalism.
What is commonly known as the anti-war left have become preoccupied with such trivia as racism and gender issues while our pool of wealth drains into a deadly crony capitalist… well there it is; military/industrial complex. I mourn the evolution of the anti-war left of my early days into a bunch of crybabies focused on nonsense.
But the saddest part of all is that 7,000 American servicemen and women, and 14,000 contractors have died to prop up this anti-terror industry. These are real people with families and friends who miss their smiles and hugs. Add to that hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire and their loved ones inspired to hate us through their murder.
The beneficiaries of the war on terror are the extremist groups such as al Qaeda, whose ranks have expanded as a response to U.S. bombings and drone attacks. So-called defense industry stocks have broadly outperformed the rest of the stock market, making investors very happy at the expense of industries that serve the peaceful part of the economy and could have used the cash for the betterment of humanity.
The responses to the prospect of a private hunt for bin Laden showed a most disturbing side of our collective consciousness. The idea of a private individual given the OK to hunt down that murderer was regarded as “risky” or “dangerous,” even unthinkable. A state-conducted war with the astronomically higher costs outlined above was deemed worth it.
What sort of demon has taken control of our souls?