Smedley Butler describes the U.S. military’s role in this emerging empire: “I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to major general. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
The modern-day version of “war as a racket” and gangsterism for capitalism can be seen in the occupation of Iraq. Critics call the U.S. war in Iraq a failure, but behind the scenes, it has established several permanent U.S. military bases, allowed corporations like Halliburton to make billions from unfulfilled contracts to reconstruct war-destroyed schools, hospitals, power systems and infrastructure, and is in the final process of turning control of Iraq’s vast oil resources over to war profiteers such as Chevron.
The U.S. occupation’s “Provisional Authority” under Paul Bremer also laid the legal groundwork for much of the Iraqi economy to be privatized and then taken over by U.S.-based corporations. Thus Butler’s racket and its toll abroad. What does it cost us at home?
The price of two and a half million soldiers, aircraft carriers and military bases across the planet, and a massive array of weapons of mass destruction is high. It saps resources for healthcare, education and housing. It also requires keeping the domestic population in check through propaganda and the corrosion of civil liberties and human rights. Stifling domestic dissent, criminalizing immigrants, and torturing and illegally imprisoning citizens of other nations have all been stepped up under the guise of the so-called War on Terror.