Socialist Worker

The blood and the money are not added up

by Mike Rosen
Issue No. 1850

HERE'S A simple question - who is an expert on war? Watching TV during any war gives us a simple answer. Experts on war are made up of the reporters 'out there', and back in the studio, the ex-generals or 'defence analysts' - people who work for military hardware catalogues, departments of military studies or for strange 'institutes' devoted to studying wars.

The media want these people to take over the idea of war in our minds. They all appear to be people who aren't there to state views, opinions and politics. The pretence is that they are simply there to describe war. You and me don't have access to the battlefields. We don't climb over tanks, we don't hang about after the bombs have dropped and we're not plane spotters or gun collectors.

So these experts become the means by which war is not only described, but also how it is defined. Our politics tells us that war is about killing and maiming people, and destroying their homes and buildings.

It also tells us that it's about the 'military-industrial complex' - the collaboration between the masters of business and the masters of war. And it's this that tells us war is a way of trying to dominate the control of resources and dominate the markets for finished goods.

This means that the people we would want to summon as our experts on war would be very different. Imagine our TV war studio. For the military-industrial complex, we would want to see people watching with eagle eyes the to-ings and fro-ings between armaments manufacturers, the suppliers to the armies, the 'reconstruction' firms, generals, chiefs of staff, government ministers and presidents.

Let's have a big chart up on the wall so that when the firm that vice-president Dick Cheney profits from secures a whacking great contract, a great multi-coloured, digitalised star splashes up on our screen - wham!!! Another target secured!!!

For the domination of resources and markets, we could have Peter Snow graphics of oilmen predicting the rise and fall of their share of barrels, offset against the rising costs of the war. Snow would stand in front of the screen screaming, 'Up, up, up goes the cost of the war over here - see the stack of dollar notes. Up, up, up goes the pile of barrels over there - that's the oil coming in...but, Jeremy, is it enough? Will George W be able to turn to the American electorate and say, 'Look what I gottchya'? Or will he have to go back to them and say, 'I need more of those dollar bills'? Back to you, Jeremy.' But we wouldn't come back to Jeremy.

Sitting in our studio would be people who've had bombs drop on them, people who've lost family and friends through war, and doctors who can explain to us how bullets penetrate the skin or air filled with depleted uranium particles enters the body. The media try to tell us war belongs to people who know how fast a tank can go, and how cheery the troops are feeling today.

That way, they take our eyes off the people who suffer war, and off the greed and profit of the people who run it. When they do the great accounting trick at the end of wars, they say, 'It was worth it.'

We know they only get away with saying that because they leave out of the sums the blood and the money. So we would be in the war studio to say all this. We would be there as experts in war - the opposition and resistance to it.

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Sat 10 May 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1850
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