By Hama Tuma
A wise person once wrote as follows:
“A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. (…) How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
None or very few is the number. Vladimir Putin came up with a proposal that the beleaguered Obama could not refuse even if the self-declared Socialist Francois Hollande of France fumed at the mouth calling for war. But it was not only powerless Holland (Syria not being Mali) who was disappointed by the non-declaration of war against Bashir Al Assad. The war profiteers felt jilted out billions of dollars. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have benefitted many petroleum connected companies, tomahawk sellers (1.45 million dollars per missile),health care and construction firms, Halliburton, Bechtel, DynCorp, General Dynamics, Aegis Defense services, soft drink companies, Lockheed, several other defense contractors including private guards and mercenaries etc. to the tune of US $ 70 billion for a decade long war in Iraq alone. A full out strike against Syria would have brought in billions to the war profiteers as was the case during the attack on Libya which is now verging to a failed state status. The collapse of Gadhafi and Libya has upset the whole security situation and balance in the Sahel area and had led to more wars that are benefitting the defense contractors and suppliers of petrol, jet fuel, bombs and the like. Dick Cheney was with Halliburton and, a former friend of Sadam, a big beneficiary from the war on Iraq. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have their own agendas on Syria as has Turkey and the much trumpeted rebel arenot beautiful democrats that Cameroon and Hollande resent them to be. Between Assad and Al Qaeda it is a beauty contest between monkeys as we like to say in Ethiopia—all ugly. But the war profiteers may still have their way on Syria.
Sartre said: when the rich wage war it is the poor who die. In African wars, thousands millions of poor people die and have died and I for one have never heard the multinational mining companies and firms losing one of their CEO. Wars in Africa displace thousands if not millions and have created millions of refugees that benefit the charity business and on the side, as the French NGO in Chad, engage in sale of children or as in Ethiopia in abusing young boys. Many NGOs make millions out of the consequences of the war, the sale of alleged orphans unto adoption also brings in millions for various quarters. The war between the Meles regime and that of Isayas brought millions of dollars to arms sellers China, Russia, Ukraine and others. Both regimes also found many contractors, often associated with States, making millions. The invasion of Somalia by the Meles troops net millions for the ruling clique and the general who headed the invasion force was accused of making millions from bribes given to him by smugglers and traders in Somalia. When a collection of African countries sent soldiers to help Kabila they got their pay in gold and diamonds, millions of dollars’ worth. So on and on for South Sudan, Darfur, the AU troops incursion into Somalia. War is business, war is profit for the war mongers and a disaster and a catastrophe only for the people.
The dollar side of war is indecent but only we the naïve get vexed over it. 130,000 Ethiopians died in the Badme war for nothing. The cruelty of war is also unbelievable. In Eastern Congo, no less than half a million women have been raped by ferocious militias backed by Western mining companies as well as by Rwanda and Uganda—5 million or more have died. No wonder the millionaires in the West and in African capitals swoon with joy when a war erupts or when they provoke wars against their neighbors or against their own people. There is money to be made War gives tin pot dictators the chance to play the leader. We have seen that in Ethiopia when a coward, now dead, played at being a leader and a hero over the corpses of thousands. Poor countries spending millions on defense allocation and ignoring the social sector (Ethiopia, Sudan and other countries spend at least a million dollar a day for their futile war ventures). The dry ration suppliers, the fuel vendors, the medicine and health care firms make millions. The regimes profit the wars and this so true that one can feel the anguish of those who wanted an all-out strike against Syria. Some of the bloodletting is for foolish causes as we have seen time and again and most of the time it is for greed, for the enrichment of the few with calloused hearts. It is what Martin Luther called a spiritual doom that has crippled many, alas.
The Tigrean clique that now rules Ethiopia by force used to compose crude songs hailing the Kalashnikov gun as their protector and liberator. Worshipping crude metal of sorts. In almost all wars truth dies first and in the process the cause that one fights for is covered up, becomes elusive,is even forgotten. Fools believe what they are fed. The sight of Colin Powell in the UN trying to flash a test tube and tell us that Sadam has for sure WMDs is unforgettable but a costly charade that the money hungry Blair fellow imitated. The war against Iraq was for oil but many lulled themselves into sleep and chose to be duped. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have perished as a result, the country is in ruins and every day the death toll mounts. The same situation is diversely but surely trying to repeat in Syria and behind it all stand the war profiteers. Same situation in Somalia where Ethiopian and other African troops have invaded and wreaked havoc trying to fulfill a misguided American policy that would not end the tragedy and the terror at all. But, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi regimes profit. And others too. Oh, how lovely war is!