Ordinary citizens suspecting economic motives behind the Iraq war are
told that the time has passed for debate, and it's now incumbent upon
all patriots to fall in line behind the President and "support the
troops!" But what about corporate citizens poised to profit from the
sacrifices of our troops? Shouldn't it also be incumbent on them to
support the troops?
I humbly propose the "Corporate Patriot Act," which would require all
corporations financially benefiting directly or indirectly from the
Iraq war to donate all profits to the families of the brave American
troops who've made the supreme sacrifice, those troops injured or
disabled as a result of the war, and lastly, the American taxpayers
who've financed the war from our national treasury.
Corporations have, after all, been endowed by law with all the rights of
flesh-and-blood Americans. With those rights presumably come
responsibilities. And what self-respecting, patriotic American
corporation would wish to profit from our troops' sacrifices and our
taxpayers' expenditures? The nation of Iraq, including its oil fields,
has due to loss of American lives in this war become -- as Lincoln said
at Gettysburg -- "hallowed" and "consecrated" ground. Certainly the
patriotic captains of industry at all-American companies like
Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, and Bechtel, will,
upon critical reflection, disown profits from serendipitously presented
business opportunities for which they shed neither blood nor dollars.
I'm sure of it.
To profit from those sacrifices is to desecrate our flag, dishonor our
troops, and blasphemize our national honor. Corporate Americans cannot
unjustly enrich themselves off the flesh-and-blood Americans who die and
pay for war. We have publicized the costs; we cannot privatize the
benefits. No corporation can accept what amounts to "blood money."
Passage of the Corporate Patriot Act will be an elixir, pulling citizens
of all political stripes together in unprecedented unity and purpose in
this time of war without end. To date we've been deeply divided; some
claiming this is a "war for oil," while others such as Donald Rumsfeld
vehemently and categorically denying that. Passage of this proposed
legislation will nullify that debate.
The Corporate Patriot Act will also help right many past wrongs. History
proves that, sadly, corporations have been among our most unpatriotic
citizens, profiting time and again from the sacrifices of our troops.
No American expressed this more pointedly than Marine Corps Major
General Smedley Butler, referred to as "that Marine of Marines" and by
Theodore Roosevelt as "the finest fighting man in the armed forces."
Said this Marine whose personal patriotism takes a back seat to no one:
"War, like any other racket, pays high dividends to the very few. But
what does it profit the masses? ... The cost of operations is always
transferred to the people who do not profit. ... But there is a way to
stop this racket. ... It can be effectively smashed only by taking the
profit out of war."
General Butler was the son of a wealthy Republican Congressman (an
unfathomable concept by today's standards: only 1 in 535 current Members
of Congress has a child in military service, and most of the current
Administration members declined the opportunity to serve their country
in Vietnam and elsewhere) and one of only 19 Americans to receive the
Congressional Medal of Honor TWICE. Indeed, he would have been the only
THREE time recipient in American history, but for a regulatory glitch.
To "support the troops" of the War To End All Wars by paying the
promised veteran's bonus, General Butler said, "I believe in making Wall
Street pay for it - taking Wall Street by the throat and shaking it up."
Regarding the American flag-flying oil company operations Butler's
Marines protected in China, he said, "why don't those damned oil
companies fly their own flags on their personal property - maybe a flag
with a gas pump on it." Few listened. The corporate profiteering he
condemned unfortunately continues, and today as our troops fall in
battle in the streets of Baghdad, corporate lobbyists are jockeying into
position for billions in revenue which have already begun flowing.
Congress has overwhelmingly passed a resolution expressing its
unqualified support of the troops. Surely there will be no shortage of
Congressional patriots willing to ensure that corporations do likewise.
Let the "spoils of war" go to those who earned them. God bless America!
Walter Kramarz is an attorney in Nederland, Colorado. E-mail: WJK1@ecoisp.com