Why We Fight

Why We Fight

Last night I went to see the Eugene Jarecki documentary “Why We Fight” about America’s propensity towards militarization and war. The film was disturbing. People will say it is “over the topâ€? or slander it as “left wing liberal media propagandaâ€?. Those people will continue to ignore the fact that there is something very wrong with a government that spends three quarters of a trillion dollars ($750,000,000,000) on its military each year. Which is more than on all other discretionary spending put together. When we put this into the context of the disaster in the Gulf Coast region, or the failings of our public schools, or the cuts to higher education funding, housing assistance, job training, health care…. well it just makes me want to throw up.

Jarecki asks the question over and over again of the people interviewed for the documentary, and most people have answers different from each other. Regular people, civilians tend to answer, “Freedom… I guess.â€? Some will add, “I’m not really sure.â€? The policy folks like Richard Perle and William Kristol say things like, “Well, it is a different world. We have to fight, we have to spend on our military, there is no other option.â€? Well, they wrote the game plan, and all they called for was increased military spending, outsourcing and military contracting, and there are only contracts, and spending if there is war, so we need to have war. Kristol said something like “We were calling for elements of the Bush Doctrine before it was the Bush Doctrine.â€? And he was proud. I am getting sick just thinking about it.

More than one expert pointed out that the problem is not so much just a result of the administration, but the Congress is to blame. They are in bed too close with the military and “defense� contractors. And the contractors have spread jobs around to every corner of our nation so that any cuts will have an impact on working people in every state.

Isn’t odd that we can’t really produce new cars very well here in the states, that we no longer manufacture consumer electronics, or textiles, but we build bombs, and bombers and all sorts of other armaments. I have a feeling that if our “patrioticâ€? defense contractors were allowed to manufacture the machines of war over seas, they would.

Coming out of the documentary I had these thoughts:
Defense contractors, and those working for defense contractors should not be permitted to make any political contributions at any level of government.
Elected officials should be immediately censured for accepting any gifts, or engaging in any business deals, or any arrangement by which they, their family, or any businesses controlled by them or their family receive any monetary benefit from defense contractors.
Defense contractors should not be permitted to go to work in government at any level for a period of not less than 5 years after they leave their position with a defense contractor and they should not be able to directly own stock or benefit materially from defense contractors.
Government employees and elected officials should not be permitted to work for defense contractors for a period of not less than 5 years after leaving the service of our government, and when they do, they should not be able to go back and work in government. Period.
Reduction in military spending should not be able to result in reduction of taxes. We need a swords into plowshares law that takes dollars away from the pentagon and puts them directly into education and truly sustainable energy research and development.

More than anything we need a national discussion, one conducted in every community, about war, the military, peace, and the future of our nation and our planet. And every member of congress must be a party to these discussions. Not to give them an opportunity to spout talking points but to listen to what Americans have to say. And every member of congress, and candidate for congress, should be required to watch “Why We Fight”.