You may think it a strange statement at first — but there is little to no doubt that the next war will pay for itself. It is just as true that the present unlawful, undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will pay for themselves. War pays! That’s one reason it’s so damned popular.
The question is not whether wars pay for themselves. The bills of war get paid — All of the bills plus Interest and Penalties. In fact, the initial cost is only part of the picture. You can bet those who make it their profession to make big money on big wars will continue to get paid very well. In fact, we have a surplus of "patriotic" contractors in our own country who would give their right arm [not literally of course] to get the next big juicy contract to build and rebuild and rebuild the same infrastructure in Iraq. They seem to salivate over such things. Business is slow at home in their native land.
I doubt very much that they can be disturbed by ethical nuances. And who can blame them? They didn’t start the war. Their clients, customers and cronies did. Hopefully they will make enough to keep up their commitments for political contributions.
The long-term profits of war are Not Unintended Consequences!
If you make gunpowder, what sort of human activity increases your bottom line more than any other? Certainly not target practice in a nation that is questioning the wisdom of the Second Amendment. What about Cruise Missiles? Bombers? Bombs? Bullets? Battleships? Tanks? Prosthetic Limbs? Body Bags? Coffins? Memorials? Graveyards? Medals? The list goes on. It is precious little consolation to consider economy of scale regarding the manufacture of prosthetic limbs. But they are getting better.
Americans have bought the Party line that says war is good for the economy or that WWII got us out of the Great Depression. If you want to understand what is going on you should read The Broken Window by Frédéric Bastiat until you grasp the truth that prosperity is not created or sustained by fomenting chaos and destruction. It doesn’t work on the macro level or the micro level. Just try destroying all your own stuff and see how quickly you get rich.
War is the government sending our young people to run around other peoples’ neighborhoods breaking all their windows. The Vandals and their cousins the Visigoths were more candid about their intentions. But they were Barbarians. Our Window Breakers are "making the world safe for democracy." If Democracy were so good one would think it would be cheaper to promote.
Maybe there are some really good top-secret reasons for this war?
Please don’t make me laugh by calling me a "conspiracy nut/theorist." Does it make any difference to you if you are murdered by a conspiracy or a consensus? Very bad people get together and make very bad plans to do very bad things. Many of these plans are unlawful. Some are public. Some are secret. Some of them are very profitable. Some may even involve good intensions. Some result in wars between nations. The cognomen "conspiracy nut" is totally ragged by now. It is as profound as saying "only good people make good plans." The etymology of the word "conspiracy" speaks of "breathing together." Criminals in and out of government make plans together all the time. Get over it! Politicians do lots of heavy breathing together. And the reality is a thousand times worse than the conjured image you just experienced.
In War Is A Racket, Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC Retired, made some very serious and fully documented allegations. Even though he had received two  Congressional Medals of Honor, and diverse other decorations, he still didn’t completely lose his critical thinking skills — as often seems to be the case with retired generals. But "Old Gimlet Eye" got too close to his men and caught the disease of Empathy.
After WWI he began to investigate and carefully trace the money trail. His investigation eventually took him to veteran’s hospitals where he witnessed first hand the shattered bodies and minds of thousands of war veterans. General Butler shared their grief. He didn’t just give them some pretty medals. He also became keenly aware of the disgraceful way the government acted toward them once they had served their purpose. Many felt they had been used up and discarded as refuse. Later the true "compassion" of the government was displayed again in its reaction to the Bonus Army.
But we treat our veterans much better now right? Sure we do — what’s left of them.
I once asked a talk show host who was interviewing me: Do you know why we have Veteran’s Hospitals? She said, "Why is that?" I answered, "Because you can’t kill everybody in the war!" This is not to take anything away from those who are sincerely dedicated to easing the suffering of returning troops — only to point out that there are those among us who are willing to betray them more than once.
Recently a friend of mine with PTSD was qualified to receive disability payments after all his years of suffering since the Vietnam "police action." The high-ranking military doctors who interviewed him said they couldn’t believe he had made it until now without committing suicide or going on a killing spree [like so many others in their files]. He had been decorated for a Rambo-like episode where he escaped and returned to kill his captors while rescuing his comrades. In addition he had no idea of how many more Vietnamese he had dispatched during that tour of duty. There can be a heavy price to pay when you wake up from your delusions. His entire life has been ruined and wasted. How many more of these wretched souls will slip through the cracks to become ticking time bombs that our military hospitals will only be able to treat after something horrific and very preventable happens — and only if they are still alive?
In chapter three, Who Makes The Profits, you will see some familiar names among the companies who made money from the blood of WWI. Is that an unreasonable indictment to say they made money from blood? Read the chapter carefully and consider Butler’s careful documentation of the differential between pre-war and wartime profit margins for many of the major war profiteer companies. WWI certainly paid for itself in their minds. Some of those companies are still raking in dividends.
General Butler on secret profits for the bankers:
And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public — even before a Senate investigatory body.
Banking is such an exquisite craft. You can make money by lending money that costs you little to nothing, collecting interest from both sides. Then after the war you can side with the victor to extract more usury from the loser. Later you can forgive a small part of the remaining debt so you can look like Mr. Nice Guy. Then you repeat the process for as many wars as you can help stir up. And let’s not forget all the "growth" you can stimulate by funding reconstruction during the brief and tenuous peace.
Please! Tell me once again that I am a conspiracy nut! I would love to wake up from this macabre dream. I’m sure General Butler must have felt that way too. And what of a grieving parent when they discover that wars are usually planned and carried out for profits and power with little to no consideration of principles or patriotism? If our hearts truly go out to them we should be redoubling our efforts to find ways to break the cycle.
The account above of a friend of mine has been challenged by a researcher of the period. Therefore I have checked two on-line lists he provided regarding Vietnam Veterans’ stories and claims. My friend’s name does not appear on either the list of known frauds or the list of documented heroes. His story was included to highlight the ineffective treatment of our veterans and the willingness of our government to use them as cannon fodder and then neglect or ignore them. Documentation of the noted events may not be possible because of privacy issues. I would not hesitate to withdraw the segment if it is proves to be inaccurate. General Butler’s Unquestioned Indictment of the Military Industrial Complex is probably adequate proof for anyone who wishes to substantiate the main focus of the article. The best we can do for our military personnel is Not to send them to unlawful, unconstitutional wars.
Bill Huff [send him mail] is a Classical Libertarian and proprietor of LEXREX.com and JamTheCulture.com; a former public school music teacher turned home schooling advocate; a US Navy veteran, and host of WarIsARacket.com. He is available as a guest lecturer or for interviews on talk radio.