FOR DEFENSE INDUSTRY STOCK HOLDERS
We’ve always been at war with Afghanistan…
I’m planning a more involved reflection on the war in Afghanistan, but I wanted to take a few minutes to offer one simple, preliminary observation.
President Biden’s single minded pullout from Afghanistan must be a real blow to the war’s beneficiaries–namely, the defense industrial complex. After all, for the investor class, war in Afghanistan was just about the perfect construct. Afghanistan was a cash cow and Biden’s decision to pull out was almost as bad for the corporate bottom line as would have been the White House figuring out a way to actually WIN the war.
Let me explain.
When we laypeople think about the War in Afghanistan we think in terms of what we learned about conventional war. Two forces engage in combat until one side gives up. The terms of surrender are negotiated. The winner goes home with its bounty.
That’s clearly not how Afghanistan worked out. Indeed, when was the last time such a war was conducted? Korea?
It may seem common sense to most of us that, if we are going to use resources to fight a war, our goals should be to win the war as quickly and most expeditiously as possible. But if you are in the business of selling goods and services to the war machine, actually winning a war is not good for the long term bottom line. Sure, there’s some good profits for a few quarters, but what about the long term viability of the company? A good Forever-War is a goldmine of long-term financial stability and solid dividends…so long as nobody wins, the stockholders rake in the profits. As Orwell said, “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.”
As Orwell pointed out, a nation at perpetual war is really no longer at war in any real sense with another nation. For our purposes, what we think of as “the war” is nothing more than a business transaction, a market arena rather than a battle theater. The real war being waged is between the “complex” and the citizens paying for and fighting the war. The citizens must be convinced against reason that the war is right and natural. There is no alternative to fighting this war to the bitter end–which will never come because it’s not intended to end. Not fighting the war means losing everything we love and cherish. That’s why we’ve always been fighting this war. That’s why we will always be fighting this war.
In reality, contemporary war-mongers have learned that the best way to wage a perpetual war is to minimize the “sacrifice” required of the citizens. Make sure the citizens don’t really feel the losses in any meaningful way. Keep the body count down–at least the body count of those we care about.1 No pictures of flag draped coffins. Fund the war with debt to keep the taxes low. Under no circumstances should a draft be instituted, no matter how many redeployments are needed. They are volunteers, after all. Make sure that the war is being fought for abstract reasons, rather than a clear goal or against a real, identifiable enemy, so there’s no way to know when the need for war actually ends. It’s not about taking out Osama bin Laden. It’s a war against terrorism. That being done, make sure that everyone knows that all we have to do is hang in there a little longer, the proxy government just needs a little more support. We have this thing won if we can just keep a minimal deployment for another year or two.
That’s what made Afghanistan an almost perfect perpetual war. Yeah, there was some question as to the validity of the mission. All we had was some vague notion of supporting the established government…which had exactly zero support among the people it was supposed to serve. Feelings about leaving were growing among the public, but were hardly at the emotional level it was with Iraq in 2008. The atrocities of the war were footnotes in the news. Talk of wounded soldiers was deflected into narratives of health care and VA scandals rather than questioning why our “treasure” was being wounded in a nation that never attacked us int he first place. Maybe we were thinking about Afghanistan here and there. Maybe a wedding party would be blown up and we’d feel sad about such a horrible “accident.” Our politicians would all pay lip-service to ending the war, but none of them really did–and none of them suffered in the polls over it. Afghanistan just wasn’t foremost in our minds. Afghanistan was just something that was happening. It was always happening. It was just a thing in the background.
It was an almost perfect investment opportunity.
The only downside to Afghanistan for the investor class was that it was somewhat in our minds. It was there. Wedding parties being blown up, or children losing their legs, or civilians dying did infiltrate our consciousness. Many of us are starting to think that maybe our government could afford luxuries like publicly funded health care and tertiary education, modern infrastructure, a green New Deal, after all. Exhibit A is the two-trillion dollars spent not winning in Afghanistan. It was really just a matter of time before Afghanistan became an issue.
Because the best way to perpetuate a forever war isn’t the Afghanistan model. That one was hyped from the beginning and much too big a deal to keep under wraps. No. The best strategy for perpetual war is to make sure that the citizens don’t know we are actually fighting one.
Again, if the goal is to “win” the war, then a state needs everyone on board ready to sacrifice, prepared to go all in for victory. If winning is not a concern, then it’s really best if everyone just not know what was going on. Let the efficiency of the marketplace do its job.
That seems to be the new strategy. As far as the country is concerned, after today we are no longer at war. We can move on to something else…like whether or not wearing a mask will make our children gay socialists or something.
The investor class has taken a hit on Afghanistan, but this may pay off in the end. After all, the war machine grinds on uninterrupted–and now mostly unscrutinized. As of this writing, there is no indication that President Biden is planning on withdrawing from any of the 85 nations in which we continue to be militarily engaged. Can you name any of these countries?
That’s the point.
So, what’s the plan for winning any of these engagements?
- We are encouraged to only care about our own. The countless deaths of “those people” are terrorists. If they are not terrorists, they are collateral damage. It’s a war, afterall. Babies are going die. Just because they are in their own country…meh…whatayagonna do?