Campaigns Love War, and War Hates the Poor

Posted: October 12, 2008 in Uncategorized
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From The Globe and Mail, emphasis mine:

In the U.S. “debates,” it was the bleakest moment for me so far when Barack Obama said he lamented the war in Iraq because it “weakened our capacity to project power around the world.” Not because it was wrong to invade and occupy a distant country, or even because it was a failed war. But because it hampered U.S. ability to invade and occupy other places. In this, he agrees with John McCain, who says the United States has a “sacred duty to suffer hardship and risk danger to protect the values of our civilization and impart them to humanity” by military might. It is a core component of U.S. political culture. You don’t get to run for president without it.

Stephen Harper’s view for years has been that Canada’s social programs are overblown and humiliatingly socialist. (You can Google it.) Yet they’re awfully popular. How do you combat that as a minority prime minister? Try this: We can’t afford it. Except we seem able to. Hmm, okay. Then lower the GST a couple of points, making less money available for the programs. Not bad. But what next?

Enter the Afghan mission. …When asked about it, Stephen Harper held his palms up and said it was all “budgeted.” As in: Sorry kids, but there’s no money left at the end of the month for a trip to the zoo. He’d just announced a meagre $10-million for pulmonary diseases, much like yesterday’s $5-million to lure Canadian doctors home. He calls these outlays modest. How about piddling? They are pathetic compared to what’s required for national child care, pharmacare, the cities or aboriginals. Then add his plan to spend $490-billion on the military in the next 20 years, anticipating future Afghanistans.

It may not be why we went in. But military (over)spending is a superb way to tilt an economy away from social goals. …It’s the U.S. model.

We never seem to learn. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

  1. N. Dan Smith says:

    Yes, LBJ, that most lovable and hated President: the man who instituted the Great Society and lied to escalate the Vietnam war.

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