Lest We Forget
This is my great, great, great, great, great grandfrog Charlie.
Everybody was black and white in those days.
Charlie, who was Flemish, had a good life, raised many a pollywog, but died early when he was blown out of the pond by a stray bomb during the Battle of Passchendaele. Most of those who died there, of course, weren’t frogs but soldiers: Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks and South Africans all took on the soldiers of the German Imperial Army. 750,000 casualties later, the battle ended.
And I’m going to put the jacuzzi right over here.
Siegfried Sassoon wrote:
"I died in Hell
(they called it Passchendaele); my wound was slight
and I was hobbling back; and then a shell
burst slick upon the duckboards; so I fell
into the bottomless mud, and lost the light"
But he didn’t, really. Mad Jack, as he was called, survived the war, threw the ribbon from his Military Cross into the Mersey, came out of the closet, and went on to develop a line of fabulous hair products.
Also try his new "Eau de Trench Warfare"
Okay, that was actually Vidal Sassoon, but Siegfried did live to be 80, so we say he was one of the lucky ones. Lucky not to have died, or lost a limb, lucky to only have lost whatever it is you lose, and then write a poem like that. And on this day – Remembrance Day in Canada, Veterans Day in America – we mark the armistice that started on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, and honor those who served.
We remember you.
And then we usually start talking about war and peace. Generally, we all agree peace is good, although some only like peace with honor, while others prefer it with carrots. War is tougher, though, and soon we’re talking about pacifism, and The Great War, and conscientious objection, and Rwanda, and just war, and Hitler.
After he started using Sassoon hair products. Note the sheen.
And talking about that stuff is important, because we want to believe we’re doing the right thing, whatever we think the right thing is. Certainly the soldiers who fought in the first two world wars thought they were doing the right thing, whatever side they were fighting on. The Korean War too, even though it was technically a police action. Then, with the Vietnam War, things got a little fuzzier, but everybody was stoned anyway. And then came Iraq 1, and the sequel, Iraq 2.
They had to make “Ocean’s 13” to make up for the second one, so look for a third installment in 2015.
This time, there was talk about democracy and patriotism and taking the war to the terrorists, but on the ground things were pretty clear. One of the few structures that American soldiers were ordered to protect from looting, after the invasion, was the Iraqi Oil Ministry. During the initial assault on Baghdad, soldiers set up forward bases called Camp Shell and Camp Exxon.
Hey, it was just a summer camp for kids with asthma. Lighten up.
But it wasn’t like this hadn’t been happening for a while. IBM made good money helping the Nazis solve their logistical problems with all those death camps, while Standard Oil was helping fuel the Luftwaffe, and Chase Manhattan Bank was assisting the Vichy government and providing a place to stash all that formerly-Jewish cash.
Keeping your money safe while you’re in Dachau!
And now the US Congress has passed a resolution that could pave the way to war with Iran, if anyone had the inclination. And I, for one, don’t want my little pollywog to end up in the Middle East celebrating her 21st birthday by sticking a candle in her MRE. So I think it’s time to put away talk of whether war can be just, and honor soldiers past and present with a new question: “Who profits?”
Here's a few:
David Lesar – CEO of Halliburton
David has reportedly been paid $42,000,000 since the Iraq war began. Ka-ching!
Erik Prince – CEO of Blackwater
Blackwater has been paid more than $320 million by the State Department since June 2004 - who says you can’t outsource democracy?
A. Anton Frederickson - Pres & COO of Titan Group
Despite paying a $28.5 million fine in 2005 after pleading guilty to three felony international bribery charges, Titan has a contract with the US Army worth over $1 billion.
Ray Hunt - Texas oilman and Friend O' Bush
Ray is currently making a deal with the Iraqi Kurds to drill for oil in Northern Iraq, despite the fact that the Iraqi government says that's, well, kinda illegal under Iraqi law.
Riley Bechtel – CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us
Just kidding – Riley's the CEO of Bechtel, which pulled out of Iraq in 2006 after being paid $2.3 billion by the US government, leaving behind an unfinished children’s hospital and the lives of 52 of its employees.
And if you own stock in any of these or other companies that have made money on wars past or present, or fill up your tank with a bit of the 500,000 barrels of oil that the US imports from Iraq every day, or earn interest from banks that have funded both sides of the world's wars, then you profit too, and so do I.
Forget about studying war no more. In remembrance of those who fought for what they believed in, let’s all sell our shares in war, and profit no more.