By Richard E. Noble
It is rather shocking for me to think that here I am today a citizen of, without doubt, the greatest, most powerful, wealthiest, most culturally and scientifically sophisticated, nation state to be established to this date by mankind, and realize that two of its most basic sources of economic stability are provided by the proliferation of drugs, and the creation, manufacture, and sale of military weapons.
In the closing moments, and the subsequent years immediately following World War I, the peoples of the world were shocked and outraged to learn about the exploits of men such as Sir Basil Zaharoff, R. L. Thomson, Hirum Maxim, Alfred Krupp, M. Eugene Schneider, etc., arms manufactures and salesmen, to mention but a few, who were involved in the promotion and “marketing” of war on an international basis. They were labeled, “Merchants of Death”.
Their mercenary, profit hungry, competitive tactics turned nearly the entire world against the capitalistic system. German bodies were being strung along miles of barbed wire sold to the French by German manufactures just weeks before. Frenchmen were being slaughtered by bombs and bullets manufactured by French industrialists and sold during the war to their enemies at high profits. British arms merchants sold to all combatants while the patriotic sons of their proud island died by the hundreds of thousands to protect the right of these “Merchants of Death” to make millions and billions on the blood of a naive free market mankind.
The international marketing of arms went on right through the war, and was supported by all the arms producing nations of the world - including the U.S.A. These antics of international arms merchants when exposed to the world at large precipitated a disgust so great for the capitalistic system that the entire Russian army walked off the battlefield and into the humanitarian notion of a “not for profit” communist utopia, and the less drastic notion of socialism took root throughout the entire world. Hatred of War flourished in the aftermath of this our first world war, in the form of pacifism. Resistance to war, and the novel notion of conscientious objection to military service became organized, and was supported by some of the greatest minds in the world.
A dialogue between war haters and warmongers began in the twenties, and ran through the thirties - the “no war” notion being championed by men like Albert Einstein and Sigmond Freud, and the “pro war” campaign championed by the distinguished Winston Churchill, and the vociferous German champion of bombs and bullets, Aldolf Hitler.
Discussions were cut off with the outset of World War II. During World War II, it was business as usual. The international arms industry flourished. While London was being bombed by German planes powered by Rolls Royce engines, Americans were being killed on the beaches of Normandy and elsewhere, by material and weapons of destruction sold to Nazi Germany by powerful American companies.
The Historian, William Manchester points out in his History “The Arms of Krupp” that F.D.R. was well aware of this fact but did not expose it to the American people for fear of undermining the morale of the war effort, and consequently precipitating the victory of Adolf Hitler and his pure Aryan race advocates at home and abroad. Politically, Americans could have voted with their feet, just as the Russians had done in World War I and toppled America into a similar utopic, communist dilution. F.D.R. had his political hands full. Many right-wingers were already calling him a Communist and worse.
It now seems that World War II has settled the issue. America is the leading trafficker in the international arms market. And, from what I can see, most Americans consider the marketing and manufacture of bombs and bullets for an international market an acceptable economic necessity. After all, if we don’t sell it to them, someone else will. And it is true that we have stiff competition in the bombs and bullets marketplace coming from France, England, Russia, China, and elsewhere. War, its promotion and preparation for, has become our most profitable industry. Without which, we tell our top-secret-clearance defense plant workers, our American economy would collapse, and topple us and the world into a depression that would make the rupture of 1929 seem like a time of economic prosperity. So eat, drink, sell and drop bombs, and be merry, for tomorrow, as an economic necessity you, your children, and your grandchildren may be selected to die. Because, as we all should know, those who live by the bomb, shall also die by the bomb.
Understanding this evolution in the bombs and bullets international market place makes me think of our drug industry. Is it now also out of control in this truly Joseph Heller-Catch 22 world that we are living in today? Is it too, an industry, the promotion of which, our economic livelihood can no longer survive without? We now have whole nations of people who are involved in the production and manufacture of drugs. We have whole armies that are buying their bombs and bullets from the profits accumulated through illegal drug trafficking. The drug industry has been growing and profiting all of my life. It has not only infiltrated my culture and social existence, but my government and its agencies - you do remember Ollie North and Iran Contra - the business community, banking, real estate and finance. Though we pretend to be fighting it, as we pretend to be avoiding war, is it now true, as with war that it is now also an economic necessity - a business, the promotion of which we, as Americans, can no longer survive without?