Regarding Michael Romain’s piece on the 9/11 attacks, he mentions first responders, and eventually includes the Jan. 6 Capitol Police who bore the brunt of that failed coup attempt, and how many of them have struggled to get help with PTSD and/or duty-related illness. He concludes (per my reading of his assessment) that the machinery of our politics and military is greased with blood money, revealed in a back-in-the-day rap recording that asserts “Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved (Ain’t nothin’ going on but the money and the power).”

How true!

Long before any of those references, and before 9/11, there was President Eisenhower warning against the “military-industrial complex.” That was in the late 1950s! Ike was the top general in World War II. He was right on the money, the same money that rapper Project Pat tossed out in “Don’t Save Her.” Who is “her”? To me it’s a rational, well-reasoned approach to power and how to use it. Since WWII, we have had a failed Korean War, a debacle in Vietnam, and two incoherently conducted military occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Never mind that we can’t any longer seem to defeat an enemy. Victory isn’t really the objective these days (to the bitter disgust of those sent to fight). 

It’s those military contracts. We have bases all over the world. Our military budget eats up over half of the federal budget, year after year. Education? Health care? Climate action? Infrastructure? Social safety net programs? Not so much. We have bombed so many countries post-WWII that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges asserts we inadvertently got a taste of our own medicine on 9/11.

And as Michael Romain has come to realize, our money and military power abuses all skin colors, all ethnicities, with women and children given no special exemption. Our recent retreat from Afghanistan has, of course, become cannon fodder for political points to be scored, with a now publicly revealed price tag of 2 trillion dollars’ worth of those contracts being emphasized far more than the 2,352 dead U.S. combatants. Yeah, money talks, Michael. But you knew that already, I’d like to think.

My generation had songs about materialism and mindless money grubbing, and cynically orchestrated military incursions. Dylan wrote, “The times, they are a changing,” not long after Ike warned us against that military complex. If they are changing, it certainly doesn’t seem to be for the better.

Just look around. As a military veteran of the Vietnam era, for me it’s basically the more things change, the more they stay insane.

Joe Harrington

Oak Park

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