The high cost of needless wars

00_JamesClingmanWith their fingers on the triggers, the Secretary of Defense and others in our government are poised to strike Syria and commit fighting troops to that country, even at a time when the soldiers in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave.

Understanding that World War II and the Viet Nam War, followed of course by the war in Iraq, brought with them huge windfall profits to various corporations, we should brace ourselves for this next foray into a foreign country, especially one that is located in the so-called Middle East.

Along with the regular accouterments of war, such as private armies of well-paid mercenaries such as Blackwater, there are also the firms that feed the troops, including like Kellogg, Brown, and Root, and others that take care of construction and other vital “services” for the government. Remember Halliburton? They are probably licking their chops right now at the prospect of an attack on Syria. Let the good times roll – again.

What about the everyday guy and gal in this country? Will we once again feel the pain of our young people dying while defending another country? And will we ultimately pay for this war, as we did for that unnecessary war in Iraq, with our low stagnant wages? While I don’t know the answer to the first question, surely the answer to the second question is probably “Yes.”

Pain at pump
It has already started, but get ready for more pain at the pump. Get ready for price gouging and everything else that goes with strife in the Middle East. Some speculators and “oil watchers” say prices will not rise because Syria produces such a relatively small amount of the world’s oil. That fact along with the U.S. having increased its production and having moved away from total dependency on foreign oil (Can you say, North Dakota?) lessens the likelihood of high oil prices if Syria is attacked.

Peel back this onion a bit more and you will find lurking just beneath the surface counter-threats by Iran and other groups in the Middle East. In retaliation for a U.S. strike of Syria, there is a very good possibility that Iran will get a couple of its groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, to start lobbing rockets at Israel, as well as their constant threat of blocking the Strait of Hormuz. Now we have a full blown war and a catastrophe on our hands, which will most assuredly result in outlandish and in some cases unreachable gas prices, at least for those of us who need it most.

Blacks suffering
I deeply sympathize with the people of Syria, but right now, as in the case of Egypt, we don’t know who our friends are and who our foes are in their civil war. We cannot continue to be the policemen of the world; we must take care of the numerous problems we have in this country, mass incarceration of Black men, health disparities, the growing wealth gap for Black people, the high unemployment rate for Blacks, especially our youth, and the desperate and dangerous condition of our infrastructure, namely, our bridges.

Our nation-building efforts should begin with this nation. As Ron Daniels has called for a “Domestic Marshall Plan” to rebuild America’s dark ghettos, after attending the commemorative March on Washington, he also wrote, “How can the U.S. justify “nation-building” in Iraq and Afghanistan and refuse to do “community-building” on behalf of her long-suffering sons and daughters of Africa in America?”

Jim Clingman is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website,



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