Donald Trump applauds while standing in front of U.S. flags on a campaign stop in Phoenix, Arizona. August 31, 2016. (Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore, CC SA license)
By Kit O’Connell / 05.03.2017
A curious thing happened recently when Donald Trump fired Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria in early April, then dropped a bomb of record-breaking size on Afghanistan soon thereafter.
After less than 90 days of so-called “resistance,” during which even the mainstream media became so worked up that the Washington Post changed its motto to “Democracy Dies In Darkness,” suddenly that heap of dung coated in spray tanner was deemed “presidential.”
A candidate who makes it a point of congratulating dictators that moonlight as ISIS suppliers was apparently moved by the appalling footage of suffering chemical weapons victims — or his daughter was and then ran to daddy, or something like that.
What’s more likely than a family of concerned sociopaths is the tried and true lust — for money. As we noted in a post the day after the Syria bombings, Trump stood to make BANK from the 59 missiles fired due to the fact that he owns stock in Raytheon, the makers of the Tomahawk missile.
And while this is a particularly direct and egregious example of war profiteering, making bank off of death is as American a pastime as baseball — and just as media friendly.
So in that sense — the media DID get it right — at least in terms of historical accuracy. Bombing a foreign country for profit, while promoting vague humanitarian aims to justify the violence, is quintessentially presidential. And, as much as I love to point out that Trump is a festering heap of pus-filled boils in human form, going to war to profit off of human suffering is simply the American way, regardless of whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House.
War is money, and that’s this week’s fact.
A Tomahawk missile launches from a U.S. Navy destroyer during training exercises. March 26, 2015. (Flickr / U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Martin Wright, public domain)
So, let’s take another look at that Syria bombing. Trump fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria, as a way of sending a message that it’s only OK to kill people with bullets, sharp objects, and conventional bombs — but never chemical weapons. But I mean, you can gas your own people — just try not to actually kill them with gas. Because you know, not even Hitler did that …
First introduced during the original Desert Storm, each Tomahawk missile costs between $1 million and 1.4 million dollars, meaning that in one day, Raytheon banked between 59 and 82 million dollars. Loren Thomson, a D.C. defense analyst, told the Herald that “The Tomahawk has been a favorite weapon for recent administrations … because of its ability to strike precisely while avoiding the danger of aircraft flying over enemy territory or putting boots on the ground.” Thomson even predicted “The Syria strike could be used as a model for other countries, including North Korea.”
In light of that good news — for the profit margins of the military-industrial complex, not so much for global stability — shares of Raytheon closed up 1.5 percent on the day after the bombing, even though overall the stock market took a dip.
A B-52 Stratofortress flies a military support mission over Afghanistan. 2006. (Flickr / U.S. Air Force / Master Sgt. Lance Cheung, public domain)
Meanwhile, war still rages on in Syria, just like it does in Afghanistan, where we’ve been trying to bomb our way to peace and freedom for over 15 years. On April 13, Trump dropped the 21,600 pound Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb, nicknamed by the military brass the “mother of all bombs,” as they apparently never had or have ever even met an actual mother. —- Trump used it on a complex of caves — originally constructed by the CIA during the height of the Cold War — that are now in use by ISIS. Because sharing is caring.
And while the military is being cagey about releasing any details about the effectiveness of the bomb, or the potential casualties, the cost is clear.
“The 16 million dollar cost of this one explosion could have provided over 50 million meals for Afghan children,” wrote CodePink antiwar activist Medea Benjamin in an opinion piece published April 14 by Common Dreams.
And as for the efficacy of bombing the shit out of Afghanistan in an attempt to stabilize the region, Press Secretary Sean Spicer actually got it right when he told Wolf Blitzer that Trump was really working on DE-stabilizing the region.
As Medea Benjamin goes on to note: “We saw the precursor to the MOAB used right after the US invasion in 2001. It was the so-called Daisy Cutter, named after the shape of the crater it leaves, weighing 15,000 pounds … The US military also dropped 5,000-pound bunker busters to blow up caves where Osama bin Laden was hiding in the Tora Bora mountains. The Bush administration bragged that this awesome airpower would ensure the Taliban’s demise. That was 16 years ago, and now U.S. military is not only fighting the Taliban but ISIS, which first appeared in this war-torn nation in 2014.”
Barack Obama can be seen reading in the window of the Marine One helicopter as it lifts off from the South Lawn of the White House en route to Andrews Air Force Base. December 1, 2009. (Wikimedia Commons / White House, public domain)
Now, for many of you watching, the fact that our violent intervention can only create more terrorists and instability in the region is old news. It’s a perpetual loop that comes round every 4-8 years, shifts here and there but ultimately settles on the same tracks. Indeed, when it comes to foreign wars, the Democrats are just as enthusiastic in their support. In Barack Obama’s final year in office, the U.S. dropped at least 26,172 bombs in seven countries, an increase of 3,028 bombs over 2015’s total.
Even Bernie Sanders, the great socialist reformer, supported the F-35 fighter jet program, even though the project has turned into a $1.5 trillion failure. Why was Bernie so excited? Because the Vermont National Guard would have been the first to get their very own giant scrap of junk metal that can’t fly properly – aka a “plane.”
And meanwhile, for all their bold promises of resistance to Trump’s agenda, the corporate media was embarrassingly quick to grab their guns and beat the war drums when the prospect of another war and the associated ratings dollars steamed into view.
But really, those guns and drums are always close at hand for the corporate media’s talking heads. If you look back at the early aughts when war in the Middle East was young and new, the mainstream media essentially acted as the marketing department for the Pentagon — indeed, the Pentagon even rolled out its very own military analyst program — a propaganda campaign that involved the recruitment of “more than seventy-five retired military officers to appear on TV outlets as so-called military analysts ahead of the Iraq war to portray Iraq as an urgent threat.”
A temporary MSNBC broadcast studio at the 2016 Republican National Convention. July 15 2016. (Wikimedia Commons / Erik Drost, CC license)
And as, Brent Krueger, a senior official who helped oversee the propaganda effort, said, “We were able to click on every single station, and every one of our folks were up there delivering our message. You’d look at them and say, ‘This is working.’”
Um yeah – no shit it’s working, you sociopathic shit stain! Because when every fucking station is beating the war drum, you can’t help but start to feel the beat!
And later in 2003, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting did a study that found that leading up to the invasion of Iraq, 71% of American media sources were in favor of war while only 3% of American sources were anti-war. THREE FUCKING PERCENT! And it’s worth mentioning that none of that 3% were the major outlets: Fox, CNN, MSNBC. In fact, MSNBC – home to Brian Williams’ recent grotesque hard-on for the military industrial complex — was a Fox friend already back then — when it “copied many features of Fox News, adding conservative commentators, a US flag on screen, and a special section called ‘America’s Bravest’ where viewers could send pictures of their loved ones serving in the armed forces in Iraq.”
But hey, at least they’re leaning forward – leaning into a pile of shit garnished with bombs and dead babies — but still, it feels good to lean forward right?!
But even outside of ratings boosts, there’s a reason why corporate media regularly manufactures consent when they should be manufacturing DISSENT. —- As Norman Solomon reported for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting in 2005, “NBC’s owner General Electric designed, manufactured or supplied parts or maintenance for nearly every major weapon system used by the U.S. during the Gulf War,” and they continue to be a key player in the military-industrial complex to this day.
And while in many ways it was the FIRST Gulf War that redefined the media as cheerleaders for the war hawks, corporate media hasn’t served an adversarial role to the military since the Vietnam War which, not coincidentally, is the last time that reporters had largely unfettered access to actual events on the ground.
An activist holds a sign reading “No Bombs No Ban No Raids” during a “die-in” at the White House. April 16, 2017. (Flickr / cool revolution, CC NC ND license)
So yes, it is absolutely disgusting and horrifying that Trump profits from war — that his daughter and son-in-law are essentially running a kleptocracy from the confines of the White House. Our anger is correctly pointed at these flesh bags of bad decisions and botox — however — they are not acting alone. The corporate media’s complicity and indeed cheerleading of perpetual war is an important piece of the puzzle — an undeniable chunk of the war-for-profit pie.
And as the larger anti-war movement dusts off its Obama apologist tendencies, it is important that the scope of our action and fight-and-build policy not let the propagandists off easy. Because when you control the flow of information, when you pistol whip the truth and hog-tie liberty and justice, you aren’t just an accomplice – but a paid recruiter for the low life scum waging death and destruction.