September 11, 2016
Fifteen years ago, on the evening of the horrific attack of September 11th, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper and opined that until we come to terms with why Osama bin Laden high-jacked four planes and pulled off arguably the biggest surprise attack against any nation in history, that we will never eliminate the threat of terrorism against America. Yet, for fifteen years, there has been hardly any discussion concerning why bin Laden attacked America, if any at all. It’s as if America does no wrong. However, it is all our numerous military conflicts and aggressive foreign policy that is at the root of all the hatred against this nation. America has a very long, extensive history of not only arming and supporting, but help keeping in power malevolent dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world. As a nation founded on the genocide of its indigenous people, we have long ago become the world’s biggest bully.
Since President George H. W. Bush attacked Iraq in the first Gulf War in 1990 over that nation’s invasion of Kuwait, there have been only two years in which we have not been engaged in some sort of war, 1997 and 2000. Osama bin Laden stated in an interview that his attack on America on September 11, 2001 was in response to our nation leaving military personal in Saudi Arabia, the most holy of land to Muslims after that war. Since this nation’s founding two hundred and forty years ago, we have been engaged in some sort of warfare two hundred and twenty-three years, an appalling ninety-three percent of the time. The Iraq War, when it “officially” ended for America was this nation’s longest, and has turned in a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. Every day, it seems there is another car bombing or two resulting in the deaths of several dozen innocent people. The Afghan War, now the nation’s longest, was to end for America at the end of 2014, however, two years later, death and carnage still continues in that war-torn country.
In my writings over the past two decades regarding military matters, I always like to quote former president and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower, who in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, America should have listened.
War is big business and the only way the military-industrial complex stays in business and remains profitable is by this nation engaging in war. We have become so engaged in warfare that Northrop Grumman, the fifth largest defense contractor in the world has taken to advertising its weapons of mass destruction on television. Who exactly are their potential customers, Joe Six-pack and hockey moms? For all of our recent military skirmishes, what exactly have we accomplished? As a nation, we live in constant fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, we are despised by much of the world. In addition to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are also conducting bombing raids in at least five other countries: Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. And, it was just a few years ago that war hawks were urging the president to wage all out war against North Korea.
It is our military endeavors that are bankrupting this nation. With an annual defense budget of nearly $900 billion, we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year. Moreover, this amount does not include America’s newly created ultra secret intelligence budget. Since September 11, 2001, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs. The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, all the while our country is falling apart at the seams, be it our rapidly aging and decaying infrastructure system, crumbling inner cities that have become battlegrounds or a failing public school system. America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call Earth. Ironically, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls our military depleted and claims he wants to rebuild it.
In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, selling nearly as many armaments as the rest of the world combined. Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but also we are also heavily arming the rest of the world. One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s. I would not be the least bit surprised if the sarin gas used by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on his own people was sold to him by the United States. For every action, there is a reaction. Heavily arming our entire planet might be great for the American military-industrial complex bottom line, however, in the long run, it greatly impedes world peace.
This photograph was taken, I believe around 1982, and thus it was obviously shot on film. The 4×6 print was then scanned onto my computer, at which time some digital adjustment was made to both the color and brightness/darkness levels. Due to the scanning process, some sharpness was lost, and as such, the image I view on my flat-screen does not do justice to the original 4×6 print.
If I am fortunate to have you view my photograph and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!
Steven H. Spring