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The Link Between War and Big Finance

Sunday 10 April 2011

by: Kevin Zeese, War Is A

Veterans For Peace has joined in end­ors­ing “Sounds of Resis­tance,” a con­cert and pro­test against Wall Street banks that draws the con­nec­tions bet­ween militar­ism, Wall Street, the wealth di­vide and the downward spir­al of the wealth of most Americans. The event, on April 15 at 11:00 a.m. in New York City’s Union Square Park, is part of a de­moc­ratic awaken­ing that more and more Americans are join­ing.

Americans are re­cog­niz­ing the link bet­ween the military industrial com­plex and the Wall Street oligarchs—a con­nec­tion that goes back to the be­ginn­ing of the modern U.S. em­pire. Banks have al­ways pro­fited from war be­cause the debt created by banks re­sults in on­go­ing war pro­fit for big fin­an­ce; and be­cause wars have been used to open co­unt­ries to U.S. cor­porate and bank­ing in­terests. Sec­reta­ry of State, Wil­liam Jenn­ings Bryan wrote: “the large bank­ing in­terests were de­ep­ly in­teres­ted in the world war be­cause of the wide op­por­tunit­ies for large pro­fits.”

Many his­torians now re­cogn­ize that a hidd­en his­to­ry for U.S. entry into World War I was to pro­tect U.S. in­ves­tors. U.S. com­mer­ci­al in­terests had in­ves­ted heavi­ly in European al­l­ies be­fore the war: “By 1915, American neut­ral­ity was being criticized as bank­ers and merchants began to loan money and offer credits to the warr­ing part­ies, al­though the Centr­al Pow­ers re­ceived far less. Bet­ween 1915 and April 1917, the Al­l­ies re­ceived 85 times the amount loaned to Ger­many.” The total dol­lars loaned to all Al­lied bor­row­ers dur­ing this per­iod was $2,581,300,000. The bank­ers saw that if Ger­many won, their loans to European al­l­ies would not be re­paid. The lead­ing U.S. bank­er of the era, J.P. Mor­gan and his as­sociates did every­th­ing they could to push the Uni­ted States into the war on the side of En­gland and Fran­ce. Mor­gan said: "We ag­reed that we should do all that was law­ful­ly in our power to help the Al­l­ies win the war as soon as pos­sible." Pre­sident Wood­row Wil­son, who cam­paig­ned say­ing he would keep the Uni­ted States out of war, seems to have en­tered the war to pro­tect U.S. banks’ in­vest­ments in Europe.

The most de­corated Marine in his­to­ry, Smed­ley Butl­er, de­scribed fight­ing for U.S. banks in many of the wars he fought in. He said: “I spent 33 years and four months in ac­tive milita­ry ser­vice and dur­ing that per­iod I spent most of my time as a highclass muscle man for Big Busi­ness, for Wall Street and the bank­ers. In short, I was a rac­kete­er, a gangst­er for capital­ism. I hel­ped make Mexico and es­pecial­ly Tam­pico safe for American oil in­terests in 1914. I hel­ped make Haiti and Cuba a de­cent place for the Nation­al City Bank boys to col­lect re­venues in. I hel­ped in the rap­ing of half a dozen Centr­al American re­pub­lics for the be­nefit of Wall Street. I hel­ped pur­ify Nicaragua for the In­ter­nation­al Bank­ing House of Brown Broth­ers in 19021912. I brought light to the Dominican Re­pub­lic for the American sugar in­terests in 1916. I hel­ped make Hon­duras right for the American fruit com­pan­ies in 1903. In China in 1927 I hel­ped see to it that Stan­dard Oil went on its way un­moles­ted. Look­ing back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to op­erate his rac­ket in three dis­tricts. I op­erated on three con­tinents.”

In Con­fess­ions of an Economic Hit Man, John Per­kins de­scribes how World Bank and IMF loans are used to generate pro­fits for U.S. busi­ness and saddle co­unt­ries with huge debts that allow the Uni­ted States to con­trol them. It is not sur­pris­ing that form­er civilian milita­ry lead­ers like Robert McNamara and Paul Wol­fowitz went on to head the World Bank. These na­tions’ debt to in­ter­nation­al banks en­sures they are con­trol­led by the Uni­ted States, which pre­ssures them into join­ing the “co­ali­tion of the will­ing” that hel­ped in­vade Iraq or allowing U.S. military bases on their land. If co­unt­ries re­fuse to "honor" their debts, the CIA or De­part­ment of De­fen­se en­for­ces U.S. political will through coups or military action.

Tarak Kauff, Veteran For Peace ac­tiv­ist and or­ganiz­er, stated, "There are tri­ll­ions for wars and oc­cupa­tions in Iraq, Afghanis­tan, Pakis­tan and now Libya, bi­ll­ions year­ly to sup­port Is­rael's oc­cupa­tion and oppression of Pales­tine, again tri­ll­ions in bailouts to make those at the top of the economic food chain even more power­ful, but re­lative penn­ies for our children's educa­tion, adequate health care, in­frastruc­ture, hous­ing and other neces­sit­ies of Americans. Yet big cor­porate banks are thriv­ing and, like Bank of America, pay no taxes. But you do, and I do, and work­ing peo­ple all ac­ross this co­unt­ry pay taxes. I ask, what are we pay­ing for and into whose poc­kets is it going? The wealth of this co­unt­ry is dis­ap­pear­ing down the tubes into the stuf­fed poc­kets of the fin­an­cial/military/in­dustri­al oligarchs. Americans are being bled dry while peo­ple of the world are lit­eral­ly bleed­ing and dying from U.S.made weapons and war­fare. Do we not see the con­nec­tion?"

More and more peo­ple are in­deed see­ing the con­nec­tion bet­ween cor­porate bankster­ism and militar­ism; they are see­ing how un­control­led spend­ing on war is re­sult­ing in aus­ter­ity at home. In a re­cent in­ter­view, Cor­nel West brought the is­sues of the wealth di­vide, Wall Street and militar­ism togeth­er. Prof. West also spoke about Obama, call­ing him “a cagey neoliber­al at home and a li­ber­al neocon­servative ab­road" who ex­pan­ded the wars and milita­ry while reenforcing the ex­ist­ing Wall Streetdominated power struc­ture at home, a pre­sident who has ab­an­doned the poor and work­ing class and is be­com­ing” a pawn of big fin­an­ce and a pup­pet of big busi­ness." See the in­ter­view with Pro­fes­sor West here:­com/watch?v=E_y3psTDT58&feature=chan­nel_video_­title.

Join us April 15 in Union SquarePark at 11:00 a.m. for the Sounds of Re­sis­tance con­cert and pro­test.