By Gary Wilson
No one is talking about the huge profits being made by the U.S. military industrial-complex in the war against Yugoslavia. These things aren't supposed to be talked about.
Only six months ago all welfare payments to the poorest people in the country began to be phased out because supposedly there was no money.
Now that a war is on, suddenly they've found money. The politicians in Washington are fighting over who will give the most money to the military contractors. The White House and the Democrats in Congress first proposed an immediate payoff of $6 billion. The Republicans quickly doubled the offer.
This is one side of the U.S./NATO war that's too hot for the big media to handle. What they won't say is that war means big profits for business. And, as has been said, what's good for business is what drives Washington.
People across the U.S. have noticed that gas prices at the pump have suddenly gone up, especially on the West Coast where prices have nearly doubled since January. Are they supposed to believe that this has nothing to do with the war, with the U.S. military consumption rising daily at astounding rates? The costs of the war will be borne by working people across the U.S. The soldiers put on the front lines in any ground war will come from the working class. The elite, mostly white male pilots see the war from 20,000 feet up while the three U.S. POWs were working-class kids, the ground troops of the U.S. military.
The war will also raise taxes of all kinds. The Republicans have even dropped their demagogy about cutting taxes, with top Republican Sen. Trent Lott saying that the coming Pentagon budget increases mean no more tax cuts.
And there will undoubtedly be more cuts in social services that will be declared necessary to fund the war effort.
War is really big business.
Consider the costs. According to the May 2 New York Times a single B-52 bomber costs $8,300 an hour to operate. The B-2 costs $5,719 an hour, and because it is based in St. Louis, every B-2 run takes 31 hours. Every warplane costs thousands of dollars per hour to run. And there are hundreds of them over Yugoslavia every night.
The Times report quotes a U.S. F-16 pilot saying that there are so many U.S. and NATO war planes over Serbia every night, «it's kind of like New York City traffic up there.» They've dropped so many bombs that they've destroyed almost every strictly military target in Yugoslavia. Now they are mostly hitting civilian sites, which the Pentagon generals in charge at NATO then declare to be military targets.
The cost of the bombs is so high it's no wonder that there are cheers in the corporate boardrooms. According to the Air Force general who commands U.S. combat planes, Gen. Richard E. Hawley, the Pentagon has almost run out of the satellite-guided missiles fired from B-52 bombers.
Production of these missiles has now been speeded up to triple the level before the war. At $2 million each, you can practically hear the military contractors singing the Star Spangled Banner at the top of their lungs.
It took two missiles to knock out a passenger train, killing 64 or more people. It took another two missiles to put down a passenger bus in Kosovo, killing 60. One missile hit the bus and another took out an ambulance that as rushing to the scene.
The next day another passenger bus was blown to pieces.
The Air Force was more frugal this time, only one missile.
Of course, the war on Yugoslavia is more than just a place to use up multi-million dollar weapons systems. That's just a part of what drives the war.
It is a showcase for the U.S. weapons industry. According to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Henry Shelton, 90 percent of the bombs used in the war against Yugoslavia are all new designs not seen in combat before.
For example, a new ultra-secret redesigned graphite bomb was used to knockout electrical power in all of Serbia. According to John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, this will now become a hot-selling item in the arms trade.
What's also never talked about in the pro-war U.S. media is that the Pentagon generals are running the show. There's hardly a civilian in sight.
The media give some attention to the pronouncements of President Bill Clinton and maybe Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, but not too much.
All of the media reports come directly from the military, either at NATO headquarters in Brussels or from the Pentagon, where Kevin Bacon tells the media what they should report. Civilian sources for official news in the U.S. have almost completely disappeared.
The military has clearly moved into control of the war and control of foreign policy generally. Clinton himself practically acknowledged this after the bombing of the Serbian television station, which killed some 20 workers in the building.
Clinton said that it wasn't his decision but that he thought that it was right that he had gone along with it after the decision was made.
As industry, science and technology in the United States has become more and more fused with the military, the danger of war has continually increased.
The ascendancy of the military has become more pronounced as capitalism in the U.S. has become dependent on the growth of militarism for its survival.
This growth has not really decreased since the end of the Cold War, despite what is said by those in Congress who are now pushing to give billions more to the Pentagon.
At the same time, military spending is like taking a drug. It stimulates at first, but after a while the effects wear off. Soon bigger and bigger amounts are needed to keep up the desired effect. The military itself demands more and more resources for its very survival.
If there wasn't a Yugoslavia to attack, they would have invented an enemy to attack, which is practically what they did in this case anyway. The economic forces of monopoly capitalism drive them to it. It's why the only way to stop this war and future wars like it is to shut down the Pentagon.
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