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)

Oskar:
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.

Emilie:
Luck?

Oskar:
War.


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

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