A few months ago I organized a rally in front of Sen. Todd Young’s office in the Federal Building to ask him to vote no on the awful health care bill that would give massive tax breaks to the rich while causing millions of Americans to lose insurance and Medicaid benefits.
I was highly critical of him when he voted to support the bill, so I am thrilled to know that he voted “no” on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a bill that his Democratic counterpart Joe Donnelly supported. Saudi Arabia uses the weapons purchased to wage war on the tiny country of Yemen that the New York Times reports is “the most impoverished country in the Middle East, and among its grim distinctions is having one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world.” A child dies from malnutrition every 10 minutes. Does Donnelly believe these starving children pose a threat to the U.S.?
Instead of helping these desperate children, America chooses profit over human decency in the form of health, safety and basic survival. The arms industry is a gigantic profit-making enterprise that spans the globe, raking in billions with the U.S leading the way with over half of all sales. Six of the nine largest manufacturers of these deadly weapons are in the United States, including the largest, Lockheed Martin, whose CEO, Marilyn Hewson, is compensated yearly in the millions of dollars. For her efforts in increasing profits, Forbes Magazine names her one of the most powerful women in the world.
But she would not be named one of the best humans by me or by Pope Francis, who denounced the leaders of the industry of being greedy tyrants, profiting from other people’s deaths, explaining, “This is why some people don’t want peace: They make more money from war, although wars make money but lose lives, health, education. The devil enters through our wallets.”
Trump has increased arms sales to Saudi Arabia to $400 billion over the next 10 years, but the sales did not start with him. George W. Bush sold them arms, and Obama drastically increased the sales, which Saudi Arabia not only uses on Yemen but is also the biggest supporter of ISIS and al-Qaeda. As long it makes money, America apparently cares not how the arms are used.
There’s only one way that arms companies make massive profits. Make deadly weapons and sell them. That requires wars that go on and on and on. Code Pink reports, “U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan has cost us 2,300 dead service members and an additional 17,600 wounded, as well as trillions of dollars. Operations in Afghanistan cost us $4 million per hour, and that doesn’t even include any new troops or equipment.”
Trump’s response is to send more troops and spend more money. Strategy is not based on winning or helping anyone but on continuing. Keep those tanks rolling and bombs dropping.
Donnelly did oppose the health care bill, but to both these gentleman I point out that the health care industry and arms sale industry, though seemingly vastly different, have the same goal to make gigantic profit off human suffering.
On a personal note I’d like to thank this newspaper for shining a light on the dark side of local history and to writers Kevin Kilbane, Kerry Hubartt and Kevin Leininger for quoting me in their recent commentary. I believe nothing will change until we as a society quit celebrating the exploits of people like Anthony Wayne and George Washington, who ordered Wayne to come here and solve the Indian problem, the problem being the 10,000 white settlers pouring into the area every year who lusted after their land. They solved it through brute force, participating in the worst genocide in history, a systematic extermination of the native peoples of America through war, starvation, displacement and theft, not only of land but of a way of life, in the process changing the name of the Indian settlement called Kekionga, which is still on the City Seal, to Fort Wayne.
As the arms sales and exploiting disease for profit reveals, this attitude of “manifest destiny” is still alive and strong today, which prompted my friend Edith Kenna to ask the questions we all should be thinking about: “Until we stop glorifying war, we will continue to wage it? Is war inevitable? Can man rise no higher?”
The answer, sadly, is obvious, but still, I feel compelled to try. So here’s my idea. Instead of heaping yet another honor on Anthony Wayne, I propose a day to celebrate my friend Miss Virginia who opened her heart and her home to feed the hungry. And I’ll throw out my answer to Kerry’s question “If Mad Anthony goes, whatever will we call the city?” How about Miss Virginia, Ind.?
Terry Doran is a resident of Fort Wayne.