Michael Prysner is a veteran of the war in Iraq and an anti-war activist
The decisions to send us to risk life and limb around the world—today in Afghanistan and Iraq—are not decisions that we have any part of, nor do our families, nor do the vast majority of people in the United States. They are decisions for the millionaire politicians, who have the backing of multi-billion-dollar corporations, and the generals and civilian advisors in the Pentagon. We are told we must trustingly follow orders and never question the chain of command.
But who is really in the chain of command? Who are these great and wise leaders who have, in the past eight years, ordered over 5,300 of us to our deaths?
At the top of this long line of officers and their civilian equivalents is Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. The secretary of defense is the leading position at the Pentagon, presiding over the crew of generals—both in uniform and in three-piece suits—who determine whether or not we must go to war, how many of us have to go, what military strategy will be used, and the “conditions on the ground” that decide if we can leave or if we must stay. All of our orders come directly from the Pentagon brass, headed by Robert Gates.
Gates is the only U.S. secretary of defense ever to be asked to remain in office by a newly elected president. The 2008 election was an unambiguous popular rejection of the Bush administration and its imperial foreign policy. The people of the United States, including the majority of people in the military, wanted to sweep out the Bush team. But President Obama asked Gates, a key architect of the current conflicts, to stay.
Gates must have some valuable experience and qualifications to remain the head of the war machine after our “great democracy” voted those policies out!
Gates’ illustrious military service spans an entire two years in the Air Force as a second lieutenant. He spent the Vietnam War at a base in Missouri and attending top-notch universities. His subsequent career in the CIA includes heavy involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, a notorious criminal scandal that caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
But most valuable to the Pentagon would be Gates’ wealth of experience serving on the boards of directors of a variety of private companies, many of which he holds personal financial investments with.
This is the real résumé of our esteemed leader:
Only a brief glance at Gates’ resume reveals his deep ties to the military-industrial complex, but we should not mistake these ties for the driving force behind his actions as secretary of defense. The billionaires in charge did not promote Gates to the highest echelons of their state machine because he is loyal to his own personal interests, but rather because he has demonstrated a record of unwavering service to the common interests of the owners, bankers, and the super-rich. In the eyes of the war profiteers, the fact that Gates is one of their own only enhances his qualifications as a trustworthy functionary.
As secretary of defense, Gates has made sure to pay frequent visits to the people he serves—not at hospitals treating tens of thousands of severely wounded soldiers, or the families who have had their loved ones killed in combat—but at the production sites of many of the companies paid by the U.S. government to create military equipment and technology.
August 2009 was a record-breaking month for the number of U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan, by far the deadliest month of the entire war. Gates wrapped up that tragic month by visiting a Lockheed Martin facility to check up on their new product, the F-35 fighter aircraft. Gates is pushing a deal to purchase 2,443 of these new aircraft, which will be the Pentagon’s most costly arms purchase.
In November, he toured the plant of the Oshkosh Corporation, a company that currently produces 50 armored vehicles a day to be sent to Afghanistan, each valued at more than half a million dollars.
Building armored vehicles has turned into quite the lucrative business for Oshkosh and several other vehicle companies, since the resistance fighters in Afghanistan can easily destroy these vehicles with a $12 roadside bomb! These vehicles are destroyed on a daily basis, and are the number one killer of U.S. troops. Countless GIs have lost their lives and their limbs in these vehicles, providing a steady steam of profits for vehicle manufacturers.
During this tour, Gates posed for a photo-op as he personally signed one of the vehicles coming off the assembly line. It was all smiles from Gates and the Oshkosh executives, who will never have to ride in those vehicles. They are safe in their mansions, knowing that many more years of the horrible war in Afghanistan means a constant flow of profits.
After President Obama announced the massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan on Dec. 3, Gates said, “the tragedy is that the casualties will probably continue to grow.”
It is a tragedy for us, for our families, and for the people of Afghanistan—but not for Robert Gates. Our lives mean nothing to him. His service record has translated into massive profits for some of the largest defense contractors in the world.
Veterans and service members can see through this façade. Gates’ military decisions reflect only the interests of his class of wealthy investors and owners.
This is one of our bosses in the Pentagon who is deciding our fate, who is insisting we kill and die in these wars, and whose supreme wisdom we are expected to blindly obey.
Robert Gates orders us to Afghanistan or Iraq to secure profits for his buddies, his former/current employers, and his own stock value—and ultimately for a system that profits off of war. These are not our wars—they are wars for the rich, for the defense contractors, for the oil companies, and for Wall Street.
If Robert Gates thinks we should fight in these wars, maybe he should go fight them himself! But we should not—any order that comes from Gates and the Pentagon is an order that we have every reason and every right to disobey. No corporate CEO should be able to send us to kill and die for their own super-profits.
January 28th, 2014
In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama is going to call for a national minimum wage of $10.10. Then in their response ...
January 21st, 2014
My New Year's Day op-ed in the New York Times seems to have kickstarted a discussion about how to make Obamacare better. I hope you ...
December 18th, 2013
This morning it was announced by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board that my first film, 'Roger & Me', has been ...
December 14th, 2013
[View the story "Michael Moore Tweets on Eve of Newtown Anniversay" on Storify]
November 9th, 2013
Click here for this week's full schedule for the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan. The day has arrived. For ...
September 10th, 2013
[View the story "John Kerry's Accidental Diplomacy" on Storify]
July 30th, 2013
Today Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That's the bad news. ...
September 11th, 2010
OpenMike 9/11/10 Michael Moore's daily blog I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built on ...
December 14th, 2010
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that ...
May 12th, 2011
"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we're not like them. We're Americans. We roll different." – Michael Moore in ...
November 22nd, 2011
This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and ...
September 22nd, 2011
I encourage everyone I know to never travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, to never do business in Georgia. I will ask ...
December 16th, 2010
Dear Swedish Government: Hi there -- or as you all say, Hallå! You know, all of us here in the U.S. love your country. Your ...
November 2nd, 2010
This letter contains (almost) no criticisms of how the Democrats have brought this day of reckoning upon themselves. That -- and where to go from ...