Thursday, February 07, 2008

Warning shots

Recently, I watched the excellent film Why We Fight, which focused on Eisenhower's last speech the day before he left office -- you know the one, where he warned us about the military-industrial complex. Prophetic words, words of warning--uttered by someone who knew what he was talking about:

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 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....

As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

But did people listen? Nope. They were too busy having babies and getting rich and trashing the environment. Meanwhile, the Lockheeds and the Grummans and the Boeings built their empires quietly, rejoicing when like-minded greedy assholes like Reagan and Bush (both of them) took over and raped our country's treasury for their military-industrial friends. Congressional dems may bitch and moan about not giving any more blank checks for the war, yet when it comes time to stand up or shut up, they've given Bush every penny he's asked for and more. John Murtha may be against the war, but he's the first one in line to vote for more military spending so his constituents will stay happy, keep their military-related jobs, and elect him to another term.

Going a little farther back and to another country's history, Alexandr Solzhenitzyn gave us some words of warning too, and I fear they may prove prophetic as well. I want to quote a little bit of his Gulag Archipelago (Part I, Chapter 1, "Arrested"), in which he speaks about the docility of the Russian masses during Stalin's purges: (note: all italics are his)

The majority sit quietly and dare to hope. Since you aren't guilty, then how can they arrest you? It's a mistake! They are already dragging you along by the collar, and you still keep on exclaiming to yourself: "It's a mistake! They'll set things straight and let me out!" Others are being arrested en masse, and that's a bothersome fact, but in those other cases there is always a dark area: "Maybe he was guilty...!" But as for you, you are obviously innocent! You still believe the Organs are humanly logical institutions: they will set things straight and let you out.

Why, then, should you run away?...

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?...

If... if... We didn't love freedom enough. And even more, we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.

Is that us, minus the Cheka (so far) to arrest us all en masse? If it came down to it, do we love our freedom enough to pick up whatever tool is at hand and fight for it, even in the face of the seemingly overwhelming crush of this wannabe fascist state? Or do we deserve to have our precious constitutional rights taken away, as Chimpy's signing statements and illegal wars and criminal eavesdropping continue? What will happen if the government names you or me or you neighbor an "enemy combatant" (based on an illegally wiretapped phone call or intercepted email), and the arrests begin?

Are there enough of us who care enough to fight?

Many times on this blog and on other blogs I read, we've wondered aloud whether Bush/Cheney will cede their little thrones in January 2009--or whether they'll even allow us to choose their successors this November.

Further, I've seen some pretty convincing evidence that the republican's Hillary-Hatred is so intense that were she the democratic nominee, the repubs would rather see Gomer Pyle (read: Fuckabee) take office than this woman. And don't even get me started on the "we're not ready for a black president" contingent.

Yesterday morning, PoP served up this little Morning Martini, asking what we'd do if we woke up to find that Geezer Walnuts McCain were our president. That's a bitter enough drink to swallow, but let me add a little shot of piss to the mix: what if he chose Dick Cheney or Condi Rice to be his VP?

I don't think the country can survive another republican presidency, or--more to the point--another presidency committed to whatever makes the corporate world and the military-industrial complex even richer, and just fuck the rest of us.

The warning shots have been fired, and they're still whizzing over our heads. Can you hear them?

UPDATE: Bush is now shooting off every gun in his arsenal.


pistols at dawn said...

The sheer number of times the phrase "military industrial complex" was mentioned in that film made me forget everything else in it.

But like all people watching documentaries, I nodded with the appropriate amount of gravitas and discussed a topic I didn't really understand well afterwards with European friends with advanced degrees over coffee.

Sadly, the only two words in that sentence that are untrue: "over coffee."

karenzipdrive said...

I think America is ready for anyone but another Republican.
We just have to wonder which will win out- racism or misogyny?
I think a lot of former Bush voters and moderates will choose a Democratic candidate based not on how much they like him or her, but rather on how much they hate the other.
Suits me fine either way, so long as they vote Democratic.

Mary Ellen said...

I just don't see it...there is no way in hell that McCain could win the election against Hillary or Obama. When he can't even get his own base to support him, and his own party is holding it's nose to give him the nomination, I just don't see it. I still think that Lieberman is going to be his choice as VP because Lieberman signed on to his campaign and has been standing behind him with that stupid look on his face and stars in his eyes. If I recall, Rice doesn't like John McCain and he doesn't look to me like the type of guy who would want a woman on his ticket.

Huckabee may be a choice, he can bring him the evangelicals in the south. Either way...I just don't see it.

Bubs said...

Great post. This is my first visit here--nice place you got!

I just read, for the first time, speculation that McCain could take Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a running mate.

Anything to polish a turd.

FranIAm said...

I have wanted to see that film for some time now.

You have written a great post here Delia.

I wish I could share ME's view that no way McCain can't win. I do not know about that- I think anything can happen.

However, I do try to remain hopeful and believe that a Dem will win, whichever one it is.

dguzman said...

Pistols--tee hee!

Zip--I've been contemplating the racism vs. misogyny question for a while, and I fear misogyny beats racism. So many times, I look at things--things men do or say, advertising, movies, etc.--and I just ask myself, "Why the hell do men hate women so damned much?" It runs way deeper even than racism, and that's saying something. I too can only hope the people who figured out how Bush fooled them will just vote dem.

ME--Like Fran, I'm not as optimistic as you; we got Chimpy TWICE, you know? Can you just imagine a McCain/Gomer ticket? How fucking frightening is that!

Bubs--welcome! I've long admired your intelligent comments elsewhere, and I like your site. Like ME, though, I don't see McCain picking a woman (unless Condi were forced on him). But who knows? BTW, I love that phrase "polish the turd." So apropos.

Fran--my gal! Glad you liked. I too am afraid we'll somehow get rooked again and end up with Dicktater Jr. Imagine a McCain/Cheney ticket! AAGGHHH!

GETkristiLOVE said...

I enjoyed that flick. I think I was asleep during all my History classes in school, which is sad now, becaue I didn't know half that stuff about Eisenhower.

no_slappz said...

dguzman, you have confused the "military-industrial-complex" with war-time spending.

You should compare defense spending in "peace time" with defense spending in war time to get the picture.

Eisenhower was warning against peace-time defense spending, spending dollars that might have better uses were they spent on other projects.

Meanwhile, Eisenhower did not account for the fact that other nations increased their military budgets, which threatened the US. The Soviet Union became a nuclear nation not long after WWII and built the hydrogen bomb before the US. China became a nuclear power about the same time Eisenhower left office.

Meanwhile, you should look at the names in the defense world. They've changed a lot. By the way, Boeing receives most of its revenue from non-military sources.

Lockheed is no longer independent, and neither is Grumman.

As for comparisons between the US and the Gulag of the Soviet Union, you should consider the fact that there is no gulag here and no one is hauled off to jail for political reasons.

However, since you raised the outrageous claim that Bush and Cheney might attempt to seize control of the US, it's clear you're ready to accept any handy conspiracy theory.

It's rather obvious that both of them are ready to pack up and go home. Then they can start earning some really big bucks, the option open to all ex-presidents and ex vice presidents.

Westcoast Walker said...

Here's a few words from the late, great and totally insane Hunter S Thompson that echo some of your sentiments;

"Every GOP administration since 1952 has let the Military-Industrial Complex loot the Treasury and plunge the nation into debt on the excuse of a wartime economic emergency. Richard Nixon comes quickly to mind, along with Ronald Reagan and his ridiculous "trickle-down" theory of U.S. economic policy. If the Rich get Richer, the theory goes, before long their pots will overflow and somehow "trickle down" to the poor, who would rather eat scraps off the Bush family plates than eat nothing at all. Republicans have never approved of democracy, and they never will. It goes back to preindustrial America, when only white male property owners could vote".

Randal Graves said...

Fucking hell, I love this post because it's as pessimistic as I am, but I hate it because it's as pessimistic as I am.

Shall we go drinking?

Mary Ellen said...

FranIAM and dguzman- Yup, I'm the eternal's the only way I can keep myself from going stark, raving mad. Ok...I'm a little insane, but not that anyone would notice right off. ;-)

CDP said...

Great post, I loved the Solzenhitsyn (sp?) passage. I'm not as pessimistic as you are, but I'm also aware that everything you predict is possible...I just am hopeful it won't happen. ME's right about Lieberman; I'm sure he's going to be McCain's running mate.

TomCat said...

This is an excellent, DG. Eisenhower's words were certainly prophetic, and in the 1960s, we saw them coming true as Republicans actually argued that ending the war might cause a recession. Your Solzhenitsyn quite is more difficult. I follow the principles of nonviolent civil disobedience set down by Gandhi and practiced by MLK. I doubt that common people could stand against armed troops.

PS I added you to my blogroll. Please pardon the delay.

Dr. Zaius said...

Turnout for Democrats has been very high at the caucuses, like two to one. I don't think that McCan can get in, even with a Diebold crowbar.