Fight the Rich, Not Their Wars

Comments Made Outside the Office of U.S. Congressman David Loebsack, Housed in the Wells Fargo Bank Building, in Downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa*
* Preface. The following remarks were delivered on Friday December 18, 2009, at 5 PM in front of the Wells Fargo Bank building in downtown Cedar Rapids, IA, after a vigil and march called by the Cedar Rapids branch of Socialist Alternative and Iowa Women for Peace.  The Wells Fargo structure houses the office of U.S. Congressman David Loebsack (D-IA). Loebsack got elected to the U.S. Congress as an "antiwar" candidate in 2006, but votes "yes" for the United States’ illegal wars in/on Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan and for the outsized U.S. Pentagon budget [1]. Loebsack received considerable campaign support from the leading Cedar Rapids-based "defense" contractor Rockwell Collins in 2007-08, along with a sizeable contribution (no doubt relevant to his much-awaited decision to endorse Barack Obama over John Edwards in the pivotal 2008 Iowa presidential Caucus) from then Senator Barack Obama’s plush "Hopefund" [2]. A recipient of more than $93,000 from the health sector and of $79,000 from the insurance industry (along with $20,000 from "defense") in his brief political career [3], Loebsack (technically a co-sponsor of John Conyers’ single-payer health insurance bill) will almost certainly vote for the corporate Democrats’ diluted "health reform" (minus even the shreds of a public option) when and if it comes to a vote in coming weeks or months.  Our vigil, march, and speeches were ignored by local corporate media and therefore did not officially happen.
Thank you Socialist Alternative and Women for Peace for organizing this event.
I feel the clouds of Obamaitis starting to fade a little. I feel the paralysis and confusion starting to lift a bit. 
The right wing had its tea parties.  Bring on the left wing tea and coffee party.
This is the fourth antiwar gathering I’ve attended since Barack Obama gave his terrible George Bush-imitating War Speech in West Point on Tuesday, December 1st.   This is the second antiwar event I’ve attended since Obama gave another war speech while accepting, of all things, The Nobel Peace Prize.
Once again, as so many times before, it is up to us to reject Washington’s mass- murderous messianic militarism and to remember the wisdom of the timeworn social justice command: fight the rich, not their wars.
Speaking of the rich, the owners and top managers of Boeing and Raytheon and Halliburton and Lockheed Martin and Xe Services and Rockwell Collins were pleased this week to learn that things are moving along with their annual Christmas present from the federal government – "our" government. The House and Senate are going forward with $600 billion plus for the Pentagon’s annual "base" budget.  The administration has requested and will receive $ 129 billion to support "continued military operations" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite its earlier promise not to use supplemental appropriations to fund war beyond FY 2009, the Obama Administration is expected to soon request additional, so-called supplemental war funding.  Obama’s Afghanistan Surge will cost $1 million per soldier totaling $30 billion per year.
Never mind that the continuing criminal, colonial, and bloody occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan remain deeply unpopular at home and abroad.
Never mind that the U.S. war on Afghanistan is every bit as illegal as its war on Iraq. 
Never mind that all the justifications that Obama gives for continuing and escalating in Afghanistan and Pakistan are totally false and absurd. 
And never mind the growing list of unmet social needs right here in the imperial "homeland." Out here in the real world, down here in the other America, the real America beyond the war masters’ planning rooms and beyond the corporate suites, the official unemployment rate is 10 percent. The real unemployment rate is closer to 20 percent.  One in four – one in four! – American children now depend on Food Stamps. 45,000 Americans die each year in connection with the lack of health insurance.  Our schools and roads and public housing and finances are in shocking disrepair. Our ecology is moving into an irreversible crisis that "our" government is perpetuating right now by undermining serious efforts toward global carbon emission reduction in Copenhagen.
Obama has ruled out a second economic stimulus because he says "we lack the resources."  We just don’t have the money, the president claims.
Oh really? We have trillions of taxpayer dollars to bail out and pay off gigantic parasitic financial institutions that pushed the economy over the cliff. We have untold billions to spend each year on maintaining the highest incarceration rate in the world – on keeping 2.3 million "fellow Americans" (nearly half of whom are black) behind bars.  We have $100 billion to spend next year on the bombing of Afghan wedding parties and the sending of Predator missiles into Pakistani villages.
Uncle Sam says he’s "all out of money" for jobs as he signs off on a Pentagon budget that  amounts to $1 trillion a year, accounts for half the military spending on Earth, and maintains more than 800 U.S. military bases spread across more than 130 nations – all in the name something they call "defense."
Barack Obama feels compelled to say that his so-called health reform "won’t add a dime to the deficit." He never has to say that when he signs checks for the Pentagon, which enjoys an open-ended debt-financed taxpayer commitment for wars without end!
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift," Martin Luther King said 42 years ago, "is approaching spiritual death."
What do we want? We want the troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. We want a major slashing of the war budget and a new level of investment in jobs, health care, environmental healing, healthy food, education, social justice. We want a politics and policy that gets behind people and justice for the many, not profit for the Few and war and poverty for the rest. We want a peace dividend. We want an end to spiritual death.  We want a democratic revolution that puts people and the common good first, over profit and war. 
Fight the rich, not their wars.
Paul Street (
[email protected]) is a writer and activist in Iowa City, IA.  His next book is The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010).
1. See "Voting Record for David Loebsack: Voting Record for Legislation That Involves Defense," AboutPolitics.com at 
2. See "Representative David Loebsack (D-IA, 2nd): Political Action Committee Contributions, 2007-8 Campaign Cycle," Congress.org at
3. Center for Responsive Politics, "David Loebsack Career Profile: Top Sectors," reads at

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