Guns, Caviar, and the Elusive Peace Incentive

March 28, 2008 at 7:19 pm (Free Market Capitalism, The War on Terror)

war-and-peace.jpgEver heard of the “guns-to-caviar index”? Here’s how it works….

To determine the effects of war on the economy, this index tracks the sales of fighter jets (which carry guns) and executive jets (which, apparently, carry caviar). Now, it has been universally true for as long as this data has been measured (seventeen years) that selling more fighter jets means selling less luxury jets, and vice versa. This has always meant that you couldn’t expect to have a booming economy in the midst of violence and instability.

Until now.

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the sales of both kinds of jets began to rise at the same time. The meaning of this is obvious: The world is becoming more and more violent, and more and more profitable (at least for those who stand to gain from the waging of war).

And to make matters worse, the very people who stand to gain from war are those who have pushed us toward it in the name of “homeland security” and “fighting terror.”

Kind of makes you wonder where, in a market economy fueled by disaster capitalism, we can ever hope to find a strong enough incentive to maintain peace.

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Irony or Naiveté?

March 18, 2008 at 11:02 pm (Popular Culture, The War on Terror)

jerichoflag.jpgOK, I don’t know if the producers of CBS’s Jericho are masters of irony or just really naive, but this show is so timely it’s freaky (see this post to get caught up).

In season two, after the crippling nuclear attacks on the U.S., towns like Jericho, Kansas are slowly being rebuilt. The way this reconstruction is occurring, however, is by means of a government-authorized private firm called Jennings and Rall, whose tasks include everything from hiring private security (a company called Ravenwood), to issuing new currency, and writing new U.S. history textbooks that are largely revisionist.

If you’ve read Klein’s Shock Doctrine (or if you know anything about what’s going on in Iraq), you will notice some eerie similarities here. By our government-sanctioned contractors’ own admission, we are not in Iraq to rebuild a nation but to create one. A contract was even issued to print new Iraqi school textbooks here in the U.S. Once a people has been sufficiently shocked (so the theory goes), they will be reduced to such an infantile slate that a new story can be written upon that blank slate.

I just wonder if the fans of this show realize that the despicable tactics they repudiate when done to the victims in Jericho are being carried out by our government elsewhere. “Jennings and Rall,” for all you metaphorically-challenged, is code for “Halliburton,” and “Ravenwood” really means “Blackwater.”

And in Iraq, it’s not fictional but very real.

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Countless “Days of Infamy”

March 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm (The War on Terror)

waterboarding.gif“President Bush” the Associated Press reported Saturday, “vetoed legislation that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods such as waterboarding to break suspected terrorists because it would end practices that have prevented attacks.”

The logic, it seems, runs thus: Any method that could possibly prevent a future attack is a legitimate weapon against that hypothetical attack. The rationale behind Cheney’s “One Percent Doctrine,” which states that even a 1% chance that a country may be planning hostile acts toward the U.S. is sufficient evidence to attack them first, is here applied not to a nation but to individuals. If we need to detain (without charges or trial) and torture 100 “suspected terror-ists” (read: Arabs) in order to catch just one, it’s worth it.

Here’s my question: If a preemptive strike against a nation or group of people is justified, then why must December 7, 1941, be “a day which will live on in infamy” for years to come? After all, Japan didn’t firebomb New York or drop the A-Bomb on LA (like we did to Tokyo and Hiroshima), they attacked a military base in a U.S. colony which everyone (especially the Japanese) knew was planning to attack them.

I guess preemptive strikes are OK, but only when we are on the giving, not the receiving, end of them.

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