According to the tale called The Iliad, the Greek god of war, named Ares, was “The most hateful of all gods….” Indeed, his father Zeus commanded him: “Do not sit beside me and whine, you double-faced liar.” Zeus treated him like this because Ares reveled in bloodshed and his only attributes were those that are the worst in humankind. Unfortunately since, the days of Olympus, war has defined the human race as much, if not more, than any of its other, often more positive elements.
In one of his final speeches as president, retired general and US president Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people about the dangers of the growing national security state—an entity created during World War Two and enhanced ever since. “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex” he warned. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” Unfortunately, Eisenhower’s advice was disregarded. Instead, enemies were created, maintained and exaggerated. First, it was communism. Now, it is terrorism. Someday, it may be China. The amount of money spent creating and maintaining these enemies could have been spent negotiating a peaceful and prosperous future for the greatest number of humans, at home and overseas. Instead, the war industry commands more money than any other element of the US budget, with much of that going directly into the coffers of that very same complex President Eisenhower warned us against in 1961.
Because it commands so much money, there is no politician who has not felt its pull. Most, if not all, have succumbed to that pull and have, when asked, done its bidding. The most recent example of this occurred here in Vermont, when the Pentagon announced its decision to base the multibillion dollar warplane known as the F-35 at Burlington’s airport. Not one single national politician representing Vermont expressed anything but support for this decision. Indeed, all three of these elected officials (Senators Leahy and Saders, Representative Welch) championed the basing since it was first suggested (if not before.) Official support never wavered despite a strong and popular citizen opposition to the Pentagon’s plan.
Like Dr. Faust in the tale by Goethe, who bargained his soul’s damnation for success on earth, the people of Vermont have made a deal with the devil. They have been told that by bringing more machinery of death to their state, they will ward off death from afar. Furthermore, they are also told that this massive weapon and its deafening roar is the sound of freedom, when in actuality that roar is closer to the sound of the fires of hell. The devil will come to Vermont in the shape of a fleet of warplanes and the promise of some kind of monetary payoff for certain merchants in the region. The reach of his war machine grows ever broader and ever deeper.
As for those politicians, who knows what their payoff is?