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From War Profiteer to For-Profit War
From War Profiteer to For-Profit War

by Tom Engelhardt
As a boy in the 1950s, I can remember my father, a World War II vet, becoming livid while insisting that our family not shop at a local grocery store. Its owners, he swore, had been "war profiteers" and he would never forgive them. He practically spat the phrase out. I have no idea whether it was true. All I know is that, for him, "war profiteer" was the worst of curses, the most horrifying of sins. In 1947, Arthur Miller wrote a wrenching play on the subject of war profiteering, All My Sons, based on a news story about a woman who turned her father in for selling faulty parts to the U.S. military during my father's war. It was a hit and, in 1948, was made into a movie starring Edward G. Robinson. [Image: war_inc.jpg]

Now, skip 42 years. In September 1990, I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times with the title "Privatize the Pentagon," a distinctly tongue-in-cheek column suggesting that it was time for the U.S. to develop what I termed a "free-enterprise-oriented military." "Looking back," I wrote then, "isn't it odd that unlike the environment, the post office, the poor, and Eastern Europe, the military has experienced no privatizing pressures?"

No privatizing pressures? Little did I know. Today, if my dad were alive to fume about "war profiteers," people would have no idea why he was so worked up. Today, only a neocon could write a meaningful play with "war profiteering" as its theme, and my sarcastic column of 1990 now reads as if it were written in Klingon. Don't blame my dad, Arthur Miller, or me if we couldn't imagine a future in which for-profit war would be the norm in our American world, in which a "free-enterprise-oriented military" would turn out to be the functional definition of "the U.S. military," in which so many jobs from KP to mail delivery, guard duty to the training of foreign forces, have been outsourced to crony capitalist or rent-a-gun outfits like Halliburton, KBR, Xe Services (formerly Blackwater), and Dyncorp that think it's just great to make a buck off war. As they see it, permanent war couldn't be a dandier or more profitable way to organize our world.

If one giant outfit gives for-profit war-making (rather than war profiteering) its full modern meaning, it's Lockheed Martin. If you don't believe me, just check out William Hartung's latest piece "Is Lockheed Martin Shadowing You?" The giant for-profit war-making corporations are to this century what the robber barons were to the nineteenth century, and like Rockefeller and Morgan, they deserve their own biographies. Now, Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, has done just that, writing Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex, the definitive account of how that company came to lord it over our national security world. It's a staggering tale that would leave my father spinning in his grave.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Death for profit, war for profit, running drugs for profit, human slavery for profit and so and so sickeningly forth. So long as it makes a profit nothing is ruled out.

The whole concept debases humanity and civilization -- and it is being thrust down our throats at every turn. It is as though we're all captive in a psychological neurosis - bordering on a psychosis - being played out before our very eyes.

Which is what I actually think is probably happening at a collective level.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

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