Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not a matter of luck

Last week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates proposed drastic changes in the nation's military budget that would cut away millions of dollars from a bunch of military programs like the F-22.

Within hours of his announcement, a gaggle of Congressmen representing the interests of the armament industry lined up to rip apart Gates' proposal. And these war-whores (as a certain wise friend of mine would call them) were united across party lines for a change; for instance, a group of senators dashed off a letter to the president complaining about Gates's cuts and this group included Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and Mark Begich (D-Alaska). Sarah Palin chimed in from Anchorage about how her state will be threatened if a certain missile program is shut down.

Presumably the defence industry, which spent about $148 million on influencing lawmakers in 2008, will be airdropping lobbyists on Washington DC over the next few days.

I am not articulate enough to write commentary that would exactly reflect my feelings about this particularly shameful aspect of an otherwise decent nation, so I shall resort to plagiarism. Following is a reproduction of a short but poignant exchange that takes place between Oskar Schindler and his wife Emilie, in the movie Schindler's List.

(Schindler, who opened a successful business manufacturing supplies for Germany's war effort, is explaining to his wife how his fortune changed)

There is no way I could have known this before, but there was always something missing. In every business I tried, I see now it wasn't me that was failing, it was this thing, this missing thing. Even if I had known what it was, there is nothing I could have done about it, because you can't create this sort of thing. And it makes all the different in the world between success and failure.



You can't create this sort of thing, he says. How wrong.

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