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Why War? The Military Industrial Complex Doesn't Care About You

In a recent speech, Pope Francis said bluntly that "our economic system leads to war." In an interview with Michael Maiello that I did for this website, Maiello said in response to one of my questions that "capitalism isn't designed to care and no amount of socially conscious corporate governance or philanthro-capitalism can change that.  We picked a system that makes it possible to manage materials but that doesn't meet human emotional needs at all."

War is an odd thing and I think those of us who have gotten old enough to have lived through several (either on the sidelines from much farther away or even in them) have recognized, whether we admit out loud, that the characters involved are almost superfluous. It's not about religion or skin color or geographic location. What is paramount is the need and desire for the war among its fiercest aggressors.

Decades after the Vietnam war, we began trading and accepting envoys from the Vietnamese as if nothing happened. We didn't win. When American presidents have visited, they have been pictured next to large statues of Ho Chi Minh and Saigon has still not reverted to its old name. On the cusp of that war, Dwight Eisenhower warned about the "military industrial complex," having seen the danger of the post-World War II system that brought the Vietnam war about. The term "military industrial complex" itself is brilliant - it illustrates that the process for war is mechanical and rather impersonal. It simply needs to keep going to regenerate itself and compels everyone who becomes involved in it, even if, like Obama, their politics were opposed to it previously.

We make a mistake in reducing what is going on in Ferguson to just race and racism.. Of course that is an element and perhaps the guiding element for the police there. However, if we marginalize it in to that narrative, we fail to see the bigger picture. As Maiello said to me, capitalism is not seeking to hurt you or make you feel good. If it does either,that is almost beside the point. War makes some serious cash seriously fast - by defense spending numbers in the United States it may make more money than anything constructive possibly could - and someone needs to use those tear gas canisters somewhere on someone to keep the industry going. It could be in Gaza or it could be in Missouri, maybe even both:




While President Obama may condemn police action in Ferguson, he continues the military industrial complex by becoming the fourth president to bomb Iraq - with the brash absurdity of bombing a group that is armed with American weapons. Bombing its own guns - what illustrates the military industrial complex better than that? There are literally pictures of John McCain with ISIS leaders - apparently they weren't terrorists yet when he took that shot.

These three situations aren't unrelated, even if the cast of characters is totally different. It understandably is particularly disturbing that an unarmed teenager and Huffington Post and Al Jazeera reporters found themselves targeted by the military industrial complex but this has been a long process. Perhaps it coming to fruition at home, instead of just in some foreign country somewhere, will make people wake up.

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Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

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Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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