Chorus and Verse
Larry Kirwan
Chorus and Verse Blog
Posted: January 19, 2011 04:13 pm (-06:00)
Larry Kirwan
Musician/Novelist/Activist - Leader of Black 47
Ike Rules

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The cost of one heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people."

What tree-hugging, pinko is responsible for this diatribe? Paul Robeson, Bobby Kennedy, Malachy McCourt?

None of these esteemed gentlemen. Such words were uttered by the last great Republican president, Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Much attention has been given of late to Ike's farewell warning against the influence of the military-industrial complex. The poor man must be twisting in his grave, for the US has become a military-industrial complex.

Cut education, cut social security, cut your granny's bingo allowance, but don't even dream of examining a defense budget! Might as well toss the baby Jesus out of the crib before you cut a buck from this sacrosanct military shopping list.

The waste, over-run budgets, out-of-date weaponry is astounding; the money galore seeping from the pentagon to the military suppliers, defense contractors and security firms is common knowledge and yet with a few honorable exceptions our political representatives adopt a hands off attitude.

What kind of madness is this? We don't have enough money to rebuild roads, bridges, schools, or rail lines, but amazingly we spend more on our military than the countries with the next fifteen largest budgets combined.

Now I'm not talking about the wage or salary of the soldier or sailor, nor of the benefits they receive when they come home they deserve everything they get and more. What is troubling is the mindset that defense budgets are holy cows to be held in awe but never touched.

Have you ever considered that the US has been at war or on a war footing ever since Eisenhower vacated the White House in 1960? We careen internationally from local vendetta to civil conflict often taking sides indiscriminately, usually without any sense of realpolitik.

It was so nice of us to go into Iraq, lose 4,400 US lives, waste billions borrowed from China, with the end result of handing the joint over to Iran. But even before we're shown the door out of Baghdad, we've already shifted most of the troops to another un-winnable war supporting a narco-based, ultra-corrupt Afghani government.

Who is our next bogeyman, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-il, Bono? Hey, with oil running out, how about we resurrect the Fenian Brotherhood and invade Canada?

The real problem is that our political culture doesn't allow us to discuss defense budgets. You have to hand it to these military-industrial dudes - they really run a tight game with bone-deep roots in both political parties, the media, and the national psyche; just as soon as anyone even mentions this madness, out come the flags, and the "hey, commie, why don't you buzz off to Cuba" chants erupt.

The celebrity warrior culture does us no favors. Now I think General Petraeus is a sound man and an astute tactician; but even he would tell you that his "surge" worked because our former enemies, the Sunni Sons of Iraq, were added to the US employment rolls. Money well spent, I say, even if it never appeared in any budget defense or otherwise.

His new surge in Afghanistan will work too. The Pashtun clans, AKA Taliban, will melt away for the time being. Why not, they know we'll eventually leave, might as well take a paid vacation courtesy of our Pakistani allies, and return when the heat dies down.

But then, General Petraeus is a soldier, unlike President Eisenhower who became a statesman. The general sees only the short-term. Ike looked down the road and saw what we could, and have, become a nation at permanent war afraid to ask the reasons why.

Larry Kirwan

Larry Kirwan is the leader, singer/guitarist and composer for the Irish-American rock band Black 47. Black 47 has released thirteen CDs for both major and independent labels. The band has appeared on Leno, Letterman and O'Brien and been profiled in most major magazines and newspapers in the US. Their album, Trouble in the Land, was recently voted the "top album of the decade" by readers of Bankers and Gangsters, Black 47's latest CD, was released in March 2010 by UFO Music.

Kirwan has also recorded Kilroy Was Here and Keltic Kids as solo efforts.

He has written twelve plays and musicals, five of which are collected in the book Mad Angels. Liverpool Fantasy, his best-known play, has been produced Off-Broadway and at the Dublin Theatre Festival. He has also written a novel version of Liverpool Fantasy (translated into Japanese, Spanish and Greek), a memoir - Green Suede Shoes - and Livin' in America, a collection of songs and stories. Rockin' The Bronx, his latest novel, was recently published in the US and UK/Ireland.

Kirwan hosts and produces Celtic Crush for SiriusXM Satellite Radio and writes a weekly column for the Irish Echo.

A political activist, he has long been involved in Irish and American causes.

He is currently working on a new novel about the aftermath of 9/11 and a musical with Thomas Keneally of Schindler's List fame.

Connect with Larry Kirwan on:
Black 47 Official Website Black 47 Official Website
Black 47 on Facebook Black 47 on Facebook
Black 47 on Twitter Black 47 on Twitter
©2011, Chorus and Verse
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