The 1% and The 2%

June Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

Given the daily fiascos in American politics it might be easy to miss the fact that the Military Industrial Complex is doubling its revenue, now that President Rump has convinced/ frightened all NATO members into increasing their military spending.

I’m not sure when it happened, maybe it was when the millions of refugees started pouring out of the Middle East, but it dawned on me that our global community is constantly being manipulated by a small group of weapons dealers, all of whom are virtually invisible and unknown to the rest of us.

And these guys are businessmen. Profit is their god, peace is their enemy. They don’t care one iota what your flavour of ideology might be—worship Allah, Buddha or Christ, believe in capitalism, believe in nothing, dance circles around trees, they don’t care, as long as enough of us believe we have evil enemies worthy of being destroyed.

If your region isn’t at war, if your infrastructure isn’t being pummeled into rubble, if your population isn’t being reduced to traumatized refugees, then you’re on the other side of their balance sheet. You’re one of the lucky nations, but to stay lucky you must increase your defense spending to 2% — which isn’t a true measure of your costs, of course, because you’ll also have to pour multi-millions into foreign aid. Maybe the MIC should be taxed to help with all the clean-up and restoration.

All this madness is starting to feel like a very slick form of manipulation. For decades the media has contributed a steady drumbeat of fear, always a new and improved bogeyman: those Commies, those counter-revolutionaries, those radical extremists, those leftist guerrillas, those terrorists, etc etc. How many of these threats are legitimate and how many have been conjured?

I think we really need to know about the weapons trade—the names of the people involved, from whom and to whom the money flows, how the supply chain operates. I’d like to see their balance sheets. Because peace decreases profit, the war industry must have developed some tried and true methods for seeding new combat zones.

Give any Third World thug or would-be dictator a few guns and you’ve laid the groundwork for future sales. Soon tensions are stoked, the media is reporting on murders, rapes and destruction, and a conflict becomes ‘legitimized’. Violence causes communities to fracture into loss and revenge and before you know it, people no longer see their common bonds and shared humanity.

Peace isn’t idealistic, naïve, or impossible. Peace is intelligence. Peace represents an evolution. Choosing peace means you’re educated and will resist the manipulation.

When President Rump demanded that NATO nations increase their military spending, was it another manifestation of him playing to his strength? After all, if there’s one thing we know for sure, he understands how to make money. Or was it a demonstration of a dumb, powerful man being duped into the role of salesman?

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